Article published by: TheMaghrebiNote
In the city of Dernah, two groups with Jihadi ideology have found themselves to be the most powerful and influential groups. Although they both can be classified as Salafi Jihadis, they are indeed not on good terms.
The dispute is between the group known as “Abu Slim Martyrs brigade” which is led by Shâykh Salim Derby, a former member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting group, now among the leaders and prominent figures in Abu Slim Martyrs brigade.
Abu Slim Martyrs Brigade mainly consists of Libyan fighters and was formed during the revolution. Their stance and ideology is very clear, they want to establish Islamic Governance in Libya ruled by Islamic Law. Abu Slim Martyrs Brigade is mostly active in the group at the moment providing and securing fuel and protecting the Banks from robbery.
The other front is the group known as the Shura Council of Islamic Youth in Dernah, a group that is known for its close ties to the ‘Islamic State’ in Iraq & Syria, and they already claimed to have given their pledge of allegiance to the ‘Islamic State’ leader.
The Shura Council of Islamic Youth in Dernah consists of local fighters, mainly youth, but also fighters who have been to Syria to fight and have now returned and allegedly some foreign fighters from Tunisia & Algeria. The group is active in the city with occasional ‘Dawah (advocacy) Events’ and gatherings, such as a gathering they held the 31st October 2014 which they named; “Extending hands forth for pledging allegiance to Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi” – so there is no doubt that this group is vocal and active in the city with power.
The disputes between the groups from a general point of view are of course based upon ideological differences. The Abu Slim Martyrs Brigade is a local movement who seeks to establish a local government, while the Shura Council of Islamic Youth in Dernah is a global movement, in fact they have already claimed that the ‘Caliphate’ have reached Libya and each and every Islamic group in Libya must give their pledge of allegiance to Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi.
This however is not something Abu Slim Martyrs Brigade will tolerate nor accept, as they have stated numerous times that they will not give a pledge of allegiance to someone who is outside of Libya.
And while the Shura Council of Islamic Youth in Dernah, also known as ‘The Islamic State in Libya’ are not very open to dialogue when it comes to other ‘modernist Islamist’ groups, Abu Slim Martyrs Brigade wishes to see unity between the ranks of those who have the same goal which is establish Islamic Law.
And for this reason, Abu Slim Martyrs Brigade initiated along with other Islamist factions in Dernah the formation of a Shura Council which they named:
“The Shura Council of Mujahideen in Dernah and its suburbs”, and as the leader of Abu Slim Martyrs Brigade said in an interview with Channel Panorama Libya:
“We will not stop supporting the Mujahideen and supporting the defense of Libya and the revolution of February 17th until we rule by the law of Allah and the Sunnah of the Prophet, pbuh”
And whilst using a rhetoric that is expressing the goals of the newly formed Shura Council as being very local and limited to Libya, Salim Derby did not compromise on reiterating exactly what his group seeks.
Besides these ideological differences that of course are what really what sparked the events that unfolded on the ground, it is also important to look at the disputes between the groups on the ground.
The main issue that really was the starting point of the drama between the two fronts was the issue of Abu Slim Martyrs Brigade granting protection, or what is known as Amânah (covenant of security) in Arabic, to Mustafa Abdel Jalil, Chairman of the National Transitional Council in Libya. The Shura Council of Islamic Youth did not tolerate this, as they see Mustafa Abdel Jalil as a ‘tyrant’.
Abu Slim Martyrs Brigade referred this matter to Sheikh Abu Muhammad Al-Maqdisi, a Jihadi ideologue and scholar – in which he advised them that a covenant of security should always be seen as an opportunity, whether the person dealt with is a Muslim or not.
Another dispute is that the Shura Council of Islamic Youth accused the Abu Slim Martyrs Brigade of joining the Supreme Committee of the Interior Ministry, which they say as ‘joining the state of apostates’ as Abu Slim Martyrs Brigade had only signed a contracts with the interior ministry – the Shura Council of Islamic Youth in Dernah demanded from the leaders of Abu Slim Martyrs Brigade to publically declare ‘repentance’ and to join the Shura Council of the Islamic Youth.
As Abu Slim Martyrs Brigade refused to do this, Shura Council of Islamic Youth started to assassinate leaders and members of the Abu Slim Martyrs Brigade, including Abu Bilal who was killed in 30th May 2014 after a bomb was placed under his car.
While the Shura Council of Islamic Youth also claimed that Abu Slim Martyrs Brigade had protected and facilitated security for polling places at the elections July 2012, although this was denied completely by Abu Slim Martyrs Brigade
The Shura Council of the Islamic Youth and Abu Slim Martyrs Brigade at the moment are not exchanging fire, although there are still conflicts & issues in the air and these issues could at anytime intensify and cause a second round of an all-out war between two Jihadi fronts, so close ideologically yet so far.