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Libya: The Gamma al-Islamiya al-Moqatilla (al-Jama'a al-Islamiyyah al-Muqatilah, and a variety of other Arabic spellings), including its activities, where it operates, and its relationships with foreign governments

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 1 February 1999
Citation / Document Symbol LBY31214.E
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Libya: The Gamma al-Islamiya al-Moqatilla (al-Jama'a al-Islamiyyah al-Muqatilah, and a variety of other Arabic spellings), including its activities, where it operates, and its relationships with foreign governments, 1 February 1999, LBY31214.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6aab150.html [accessed 4 December 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

 

The majority of documentary sources refer to the Libyan militant Islamic group "al-Jama'a al-Islamiyya al-Muqatila" by its English translation of "the Fighting Islamic Group" (FIG) (African Research Bulletin 1-31 Oct. 1995, 12026a; Libya: Opposition Groups n.d.; Nida'ul Islam Oct.-Nov. 1996; Middle East Security Report 8 Jan. 1997; al-Sharq al-Awsat 7 Feb. 1997; MBC Television 19 Oct. 1995). Some sources add "-Libya" to the end of the group's name in both its Arabic and English forms (Reuters 25 Oct. 1995; Libya: News and Views 4 May 1997; ibid. 8 June 1997).

Please note, however, that other sources have translated "al-Jama'a al-Islamiyya al-Muqatila" to "Militant Islamic Group" (MIG) and provide both names in both languages (al-Sharq al-Awsat 27 Nov. 98; Libya: News and Views/BBC MS 14 Jan. 1997) and on these occasions, one knows that the sources are referring to "al-Jama'a al-Islamiyya al-Muqatila." Sometimes "Libya" is also prefixed or suffixed. Other sources just refer to MIG without providing the Arabic name. In this Response to Information Request, the acronym FIG will be used unless the source has translated "al-Jama'a al-Islamiyya al-Muqatila" to "Militant Islamic Group," in which case the acronym MIG will be used, to highlight the distinction in the translation of the name from Arabic into English.

Founding

Sources differ as to the founding date of FIG. One source reports that FIG was established in 1991 when it wrote its manhaj (programme) (Libya: Opposition Groups n.d.), while another report states that FIG emerged sometime between 1994 and late 1996 (Africa Research Bulletin 1-31 Jan. 1997 12535c). A third report claims that FIG was formed sometime in 1995 following the killing of "well-known" Sheikh Abu Yahya and others during battle with Qadhdhafi's (Qaddafi) army (Nida'ul Islam July-Sept. 1996a). MIG reportedly announced its presence publicly in an 18 October 1995 statement three months after the July 1995 armed clashes in eastern and western Libya with the security forces during which Sheikh Abu Yahya and others were killed (al-Wasat 5-11 Aug. 1996).

In October 1995 MBC Television and Reuters referred to FIG as a "previously unknown group" (19 Oct. 1995; 25 Oct. 1995) and the Cairo-based Arabic language newspaper Al-Ahram referred to MIG as a "previously unknown group" (20 Oct. 1995).

Leadership/Membership and Publication

Sources provide several names of FIG leaders: in late 1996 the official FIG spokesperson was Abu Bakr Alsharif, who was also regarded as one of the FIG founders (Nida'ul Islam Oct.-Nov. 1996). In August 1996 the London-based Arabic language newspaper al-Wasat reported that Abu-Bakr al-Sharif is "one of the most prominent commanders of the MIG" (5-11 Aug. 1996).

In January 1997 FIG's leader, Abu Abdullah As-Sadeq (al-Sadeq), was reported to live in exile in London, UK (Middle East Security Report 8 Jan. 1997). Abu-Abdallah al-Sadiq was reported to be MIG "amir" (leader) in August 1996 (al-Wasat 5-11 Aug. 1996), June 1998 and November 1998 (al-Sharq al-Awsat 26 June 1998; ibid. 27 Nov. 1998), while an Abdallah al-Sadiq was reported to be amir of the Libyan Militant Islamic Group (LMIG) in January 1997 (al-Sharq al Awsat 2 Jan. 1997).

A BBC report from January 1997 refers to Abd al-Rahman al-Hattab as the MIG's amir in Libya (Libya: News and Views/BBC 8 Jan. 1997). Middle East Security Report stated that Salah Fathi Bin Salman (also known as Abu Abdurrahman Hattab), one of FIG's founders and leaders, was reportedly killed on 23 September 1997 in a battle with security forces in Jebel al-Akhdar, near the coastal town of Darnah (15 Oct. 1997).

FIG members are reportedly former mujahideen who fought the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s (Middle East Security Report 8 Jan. 1997).

FIG publishes a newsletter called al-Fajr (The Dawn) (Libya: News and Views 1 Feb. 1997; ibid. 8 June 1997; Libya: Opposition Groups n.d.).

Strategy

In a July-September 1996a article, Nida'ul Islam, a "bi-lingual comprehensive intellectual Islamic magazine" published in Sydney, Australia, by the Islamic Youth Movement (Nida'ul Islam 4 Sept. 98), reported that since FIG's creation, it's strategy has

concentrated on preparation and weapon collecting, through attacking regime weapon storage basis and jails, along with a number of assassination operations that targeted high levelled regime officers, including Qaddafi himself.

Alongside with the military operations, the FIG concentrated on spreading its concepts and beliefs, detailing its path which is based on the Book of Allah [the Qur'an] and the Sunnah of His Prophet (s.a.w.) according to the understanding of the righteous predecessors, presenting the armed struggle as the only legitimate and logical method to overthrow the Kafir [unbeliever] regime of Qaddafi and to establish the alternative Islamic rule. The FIG also called upon the Muslim people of Libya to fulfill their duty towards their religion by supporting the Mujahidden and joining their rows.

Activities

FIG has released a number of communiqués calling for the overthrow of Qadhdhafi and the imposition of Shari'a law (Africa Research Bulletin 1-31 Oct. 1995, 12026a; Nida'ul Islam May-June 1996; Reuters 25 Oct. 1995). The Cairo-based Arabic-language newspaper Al-Ahram reports these same goals for MIG (20 Oct. 1995). In the Fall of 1995 FIG claimed responsibility for "unrest in Libya" that year and announced that it was moving its war into the open to oust Qadhdhafi and enforce Shari'a rule (Reuters 25 Oct. 1995; MBC Television 19 Oct. 1995; Nida'ul Islam May-June 1996). In January 1997 it was reported that FIG had "claimed responsibility for most anti-government attacks since 1995" (Africa Research Bulletin, 1-31 Jan. 1997. 12535c).

In a March 1996 statement sent to the Arab daily al-Hayat, MIG claimed responsibility for the February 1996 assassination attempt on Qadhdhafi in Sirt (AFP 26 Mar. 1996).

In late spring 1996 the security forces attacked one of FIG's bases in Wadi al-Ingeel, west of Darna City, and an armed clash ensued (Nida'ul Islam May-June 1996). In June 1997, al-Fajr released the names of FIG members killed in operations against government forces (Libya: News and Views 8 June 1997).

FIG claimed responsibility for a 23 November 1996 assassination attempt against Qadhdhafi in Brak (Birak) in the Shati' area, in which FIG member, Mohammed Abdallah al-Ghrew (Muhammad Abdallah al-Qiriyu/al-Qaryu, a.ka. Abdallah Radwan), threw a grenade that failed to explode (Middle East Security Report 8 Jan. 1997; Libya: News and Views 2 Jan. 1997; Libya: News and Views/AP 4 Jan. 1997; al-Sharq al-Awsat 7 Feb. 1997; ibid. 2 Jan. 1997; ibid. 27 Nov. 1998).

In May 1997 al-Fajr reported that some FIG members had attacked a military post in April and had seized 100 machine guns "needed for future operations" and that "more attacks [would] take place in the future" (Libya: News and Views 4 May 1997).

In communiqué No. 12 FIG claimed responsibility for a 2 June 1998 assassination attempt against Qadhdhafi that was carried out by four members in the "Green Mountain" region, and which resulted in the death of an army officer who was one of Qadhdhafi's cousins (Nida'ul Islam July-Aug. 1998).

         International relations

FIG/MIG has sent communiqués to the foreign press claiming responsibility for attacks: the first communiqué from FIG/MIG was sent to an international news agency in Cairo on 18 October 1995 (MBC Television 19 Oct. 1995; al-Ahram 20 Oct. 1995). FIG/MIG has claimed responsibility for one of its assassination attempts of Qadhdhafi in Arabic newspapers in Britain (Libya: News and Views/al-Sharq al-Awsat 7 Feb. 1997; al-Sharq al-Awsat 7 Feb. 1997). In response, the Libyan foreign ministry "submitted an official memorandum" to the British foreign ministry protesting that Libyan opposition groups were free to operate on British soil (ibid.).

In Summer 1996 FIG issued a statement regarding the leadership of the Algerian Armed Islamic Group (GIA), in which it declared its "halt of support to the leadership of the GIA, due to the deviations and legal mistakes committed by its Amir [leader]" (Nida'ul Islam July-Sept. 1996b). FIG, along with other Islamic groups and figures, also confirmed its support" of jihad against the Algerian government, condemning any other solution (ibid.). 

On 1 February 1997 FIG's newsletter al-Fajr reported that some FIG members were being detained in Saudi Arabia and that the Saudi authorities were considering sending them back to Libya (Libya: News and Views 1 Feb. 1997).

MIG has published leaflets in Denmark, and in May 1996 al-Sharq al-Awsat reported that MIG had claimed responsibility in these leaflets for recent militant attacks in Libya (28 May 1996). Al-Sharq al-Awsat also reported that al-Fajr carries MIG's address in Denmark (ibid.).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.

References

Africa Research Bulletin [London]. 1-31 January 1997. Vol. 34, No. 1. "Libya: Opposition Group Emerges."

_____. 1-31 October 1995. Vol. 32, No. 10. "Libya: Underground War."

Agence France Presse (AFP) [Paris, in English]. 26 March 1996. "Diplomats Cited on Threat of "Fundamentalist Unrest'." (FBIS-NES-96-060/WNC)

Al-Ahram [Cairo, in Arabic]. 20 October 1995. "New Libyan Group Issues Jihad Against al-Qadhdhafi." (FBIS-TOT-95-021-L/WNC)

Libya: News and Views. "8 June 1997." [Internet] [Accessed 12 Feb. 1999]

_____. "4 May 1997." [Internet] [Accessed 12 Feb. 1999]

Libya: News and Views/al-Sharq al-Awsat. "7 February 1997." [Internet] [Accessed 3 Feb. 1999]

Libya: News and Views. "1 February 1997." [Internet] [Accessed 3 Feb. 1999]

Libya: News and Views/BBC MS. "14 January 1997." [Internet] [Accessed 12 Feb. 1999]

Libya: News and Views/BBC. "8 January 1997." [Internet] [Accessed 12 Feb. 1999]

Libya: News and Views/AP. "4 January 1997." [Internet] [Accessed 12 Feb. 1999]

Libya: News and Views. "2 January 1997." [Internet] [Accessed 12 Feb. 1999]

Libya: Opposition Groups, Parties and Organizations. n.d. [Internet] [Accessed 3 Feb. 1999]

MBC Television [London, in Arabic]. 19 October 1995. "'New' Group Would Oust al-Qadhdhafi, Enforce Shari'ah." (FBIS-TOT-95-020-L/WNC)

Middle East Security Report. 15 October 1997. Vol. 1, No. 40. "Libya." [Internet] [Accessed 3 Feb. 1999]

_____. 8 January 1997. Vol. 1, No. 1. "Libya." [Internet]

Nida'ul Islam (The Call of Islam) [Sydney, Aus.]. 4 September 1998. Information taken from Website. [Internet] [Accessed 17 Feb. 1999]

_____. July-August 1998. No. 24. Libya." [Internet] [Accessed 3 Feb. 1999]

_____. October-November 1996. "The Official Spokesperson for the Fighting Islamic Group in Libya: The Libyan Regime is Living in a Situation of Hysteria." [Internet]

_____. July-September 1996a. No. 14. "Libya." [Internet]

_____. July-September 1996b. No. 14. "Algeria." [Internet]

_____. May-June 1996. No. 13. Libya." [Internet]

Reuters. 25 October 1995. "Gaddafi Reprieves Palestines, to Expel Migrants." [Internet] [Accessed 3 Feb. 1999]

Al-Sharq al-Awsat [London, in Arabic]. 27 November 1998. "Libya 'Fabricating' Al-Qadhdhdafi Assassination Story." (FBIS-TOT-98-331/WNC)

_____. 26 June 1998. "Libyan Group Reaffirms Claim to Al-Qadhdhafi Bid." (FBIS-TOT-98-177/WNC)

_____. 7 February 1997. "Libya Protests to Britain Over Sheltering Oppositionists." (FBIS-NES-97-026/WNC)

_____. 2 January 1997. "Militant Islamic Group Claims Assassination Attempt on al-Qadhdhafi." (FBIS-NES-97-002/WNC)

_____. 28 May 1996. "'Militant Islamic Group' Implicated in Banghazi Clashes." (FBIS-TOT-96-017-L/WNC)

Al-Wasat [London, in Arabic]. 5-11 August 1996. "Islamic Group, Tribal Opposition Role Seen." (FBIS-NES-96-153/WNC)

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at http://www.irb-cisr.gc.ca/en/. Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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