Alia Brahimi “Why Libya is still a global terror threat” https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/may/25/libya-global-terror-threat-manchester-attack-gaddafi
It’s possible, therefore, that the Manchester attack binds together the terror threat in the UK with long-running challenges in Libya. Extremist groups of many stripes have taken advantage of governance failures and the mismanagement of the post-Gaddafi transition – and, it must be said, western governments’ lack of interest after he was toppled in 2011.
The weakness of the central authorities – which fractured into two rival governments in 2014 before being joined by a third UN-backed government in 2016 – led directly to the breakdown of the rule of law, security vacuums, corruption, economic stagnation and the empowerment of violent and unaccountable militia, including jihadist groups.
The crisis in Libya is intensifying. On the political side, there was talk of a breakthrough earlier this month, when the heads of the two main rival camps met for face-to-face talks, brokered by the United Arab Emirates. However, there has been no word since then of any agreement, and the situation on the ground has escalated significantly.
In a battle last week near the south-western Libyan town of Sebha, an estimated 141 people were killed, with reports emerging of mass executions and beheadings. Conflagrations of this nature could potentially tip the country into full-fledged civil war.
These developments are a boon to Isis and other extremists. Not only do such groups blossom in situations of conflict and social turmoil, but the underlying drivers of radicalisation become entrenched. In the wake of the Sousse attack*4, the Tunisian ambassador to the UK observed that radicalisation will only be fuelled by the economic hardship resulting from a decline in tourism. In Libya, with youth unemployment approaching 40%, there can be little surprise that some of its estimated 250,000-350,000 armed men have fallen in with radical groups.
*2:See Ian Cobain and Ewen MacAskill “Police focus on Libya amid reports of arrest of Salman Abedi's brother” https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/may/24/manchester-attack-police-focus-on-libya-as-salman-abedi-brother-arrested
*4:See Jamie Grierson “Sousse terror attack: the 30 British victims” https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/feb/28/sousse-terror-attack-the-30-british-victims