By Libya Herald reporters.
Tripoli, 14 November 2015:
Just 24 hours after Secretary of State John Kerry promised that Washington was giving . . .[restrict]new focus to Libya, US warplanes attacked Sirte, targeting Abu Nabil Al-Anbari, described by some as the IS leader in Libya and formerly a long-standing member of Al-Qaeda.
The Pentagon has just confirmed the overnight raid. Press secretary Peter Cook said the air strikes had been aimed at Nabil, an Iraqi national whose original name was Wisam Al-Zubaydi.
Cook said that Nabil (known more commonly as simply Al-Anbari) may have provided the voice-over for the February video showing the beheading of 21 Coptic Christians on a beach near Sirte.
Cook continued: “Nabil’s death will degrade ISIL’s ability to meet the group’s objectives in Libya, including recruiting new ISIL members, establishing bases in Libya, and planning external attacks on the United States”.
He pointed out that last night’s sortie had not been the first strike against terrorists in Libya but it was the first to target an ISIL leader in the country and “demonstrates we will go after ISIL leaders wherever they operate”.
This June, US warplanes hit a farm outside Ajdabiya, targetting Mokhtar Belmokhtar in a raid which terrorist sources later claimed failed to kill the terrorist leader.
A Pentagon official this evening told the Washington Post that it was “reasonably sure” that Nabil had been killed.
There has so far been no reaction from IS to last night’s raid which is believed to have been carried out by at least one F-15 jet.
This is not however the first report of Nabil’s death. In July he was reported to have been captured and hanged by the Derna Shoura Council.
Cook pointed out that the Sirte airstrike had been authorised and begun before last night’s terrorist massacre in Paris.
The Pentagon’s belief that Nabil may have provided the commentary to the grim video of the mass murder of the Egyptian Copts would seem to underline the importance of voice recognition technology. This was also used to identify “Jihadi John”, Mohammed Emwazi, a Kuwaiti-born British militant who is believed to have been killed by a drone-fired US missile in Syria on Thursday. [/restrict]