Abdelhakim Belhadj has reportedly joined forces with the Islamic State, according to the journalist Sara Carter. Belhadj is a former al-Qaeda operative who was a key player in the overthrow of Moammar Gaddafi. He worked directly with the U.S. and NATO.
Kyle Shideler writes for The Washington Times:
If Belhadj has gone over to Islamic State, it will represent a major boost to Islamic State’s efforts to co-opt and bring in Libya’s existing jihadist forces under their banner, which now reportedly includes as many as 3,000 fighters. Belhadj’s forces play a significant role in the Islamist “Libyan Dawn” coalition (which includes the Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaeda’s Ansar al-Sharia), which currently holds Tripoli, and which claims to be the rightful government in opposition to the U.N. recognized government of Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni.
— Patrick Poole (@pspoole) March 2, 2015
The Islamic State in Libya is based in Derna, a city in the northeast part of the country. In 2001, it represented “one of the greatest concentrations of jihadi terrorists to be found anywhere in the world, and by some measures can be regarded as the leading source of suicide bombers anywhere on the planet,” according to Webster Tarpley.