Al-Mismari Reveals Details of LNA’s Operation Against al-Qaeda’s Terrorist Hideout in Ubari – Al Marsad

The official spokesperson for the Libyan National Army (LNA), Major General Ahmed al-Mismari, said that since the announcement of the operation carried out by the Special Operations of Tariq bin Ziyad Brigades and the 116th Infantry Brigade, al-Qaeda has changed many of its positions and transferred its weapons and ammunition from one place to another.

(Libya, 30 November 2020) – During interview on Libya Al-Hadath Channel on Sunday, Major General Ahmed al-Mismari urged the armed forces in the military region of Sebha, Brak al-Shati, Murzuq, Ubari, and Ghat to pay attention and utmost caution because al-Qaeda is likely to launch a counter-strike against the army in response to the painful blow struck by the LNA on their terrorist hideout last Saturday in Ubari.

He stressed the important role of Libyan citizens who are concerned with Libya and its security to contribute any information on these groups, especially their movements in the southwest of the country.

Commenting on the statement made by the spokesperson of the consortium of militias under the Government of National Accord (GNA), Muhammad Gununu, he stated: “Some try to mislead the public opinion by exploiting any loopholes. They try to undermine successes with lies. The Libyan people must trust their army and their children in the battle, which we must continue. It seems he did not read the Geneva outcomes nor the 5+5 dialogues. He has orders to spoil the results of the 5+5 and find justifications to perpetuate the war after he has ascertained that many of his militias would be off the table, especially since the outcomes confirm the disbanding of the militias.”

As for Turkey’s recent moves, he said, “The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) has given Turkey and the mercenaries 90 days to leave, but what is happening on the ground is the opposite and it does foretell any positive action towards the agreements of the 5+5 Committee. The landing of 4 to 6 military and civilian cargo planes daily from Turkey indicates that Erdogan does not want to leave. We believe that he will not do so by resolutions, but rather through something else he seeks. ”

The following is the full text of the extensive interview given by the LNA’s Major General Ahmed al-Mismari to Libya Al-Hadath Channel on Sunday, which provides important details on the operation in Ubari:

Libya Al-Hadath: The LNA has carried out a specific operation in Ubari against a terrorist cell affiliated with al-Qaeda. Can you provide us more details on the operation?

Major General Ahmed al-Mismari: This is part of the operations carried out by the General Command of the Armed Forces within the framework of implementing national tasks and performing the national policy recently affirmed by the 5+5 Committee Geneva Agreement. Article three thereof stipulates that combating terrorism is a national policy. In this framework, the General Command carries out its tasks in fighting terrorist outposts and extremist takfiri groups on all of Libyan soil. This principle is not new to the General Command. It has been there since 2014, and Operation Dignity was the first to combat terrorism and crime in Benghazi and liberate most of Libyan lands.

This operation had something new. We must also salute the soldiers and officers who carried out this “white” operation with no single shot fired. The operation relied on important data, notably the correct and reliable information collected about the movement of terrorist groups in the southwest and the follow-up of their operatives.

It also involved complete secrecy and the element of surprise. None knew of the operation, which contributed to its success and speedy implementation. Therefore, these soldiers prove that if the Libyan soldier has the preparation, psychological qualification, good weapons, and capabilities, he could carry out the tasks and work in difficult conditions at any time.

The terrorist group did not get enough time to resist. Their weapons were ready but they did not find enough time to defend themselves. The trained forces took them aback inside their homes and rooms and they surrendered immediately. We now have more information about their networks that spread across Libyan lands.

When we received actionable information, we had enough time for monitoring, follow-up, and reconnaissance, whether online or on land, and coordinate the work of the security services. What delayed the operation a little was that one of the most important of these elements was in Mali and was monitored in the region about two months before his departure to Mali. Our force waited until he returned to Ubari to carry out the operation.

The basis of the plan was practicality and close coordination between the brigades and the members of the units that participated. The operation consisted of raiding three targets at the same time. The operation did not take long. The force raided three homes at the same time, which indicates that the command and tactical control of the group were very efficient that it managed to set a timetable for the operation.

The brigades of the special forces were to carry out the operation at dawn, but it was postponed for two hours because civilians were detected at around 6:30am. Those arrested are very dangerous and wanted terrorists. This mission is purely Libyan, and all of the officers and non-commissioned officers who participated in it joined the armed forces after Operation Dignity in 2014. They graduated from the Tukra Military College and the training centers of the General Command. In other words, it is a new generation of military personnel that carries out operations with high professionalism, which is a great success.

Foreign intelligence, especially French and American, is very interested in North Africa and in following up on terrorist groups. They usually strike when they get a catch. All information was collected from an operations room and analyzed. The operation was completely secret even within the General Command. Only those charged with this operation knew about it.

Libya Al-Hadath: The two terrorists Hassan al-Washi and Muhammad Faqoush who fell into the army’s trap in this operation that was carried out in Ubari, what is their importance?

Major General Ahmed al-Mismari: First, I will tell you the names of the terrorist group arrested: Hassan Miloud al-Washi, Muhammad Hassan Sidi Muhammad, Mustafa Sidi Muhammad Tukali, Muhammad Abdullah Hind, Muhammad al-Tayyip, Omar Musa al-Washi, and Yunus Allah Ibrahim Muhammad. The most prominent is Hassan Miloud al-Washi from al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda organization in Libya has several tiers. This cell follows al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) branch directly. In other words, he is one of the leaders of the organization in Libya.

They are not patriots. Hassan al-Washi was in charge of the transportation line between southern Libya and Mali. He secures it and transfers ammunition, weapons, and money. He participated in the Malian war and kidnapped the French in Mali. He is a personal attendant for Mukhtar bin Mukhtar, the leader of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, and to Abu Ammar, who is Yahya al-Jawadi, an Algerian terrorist in charge of al-Qaeda in Libya.

Hassan al-Washi joined Daesh in 2013, received training at an al-Qaeda camp in Ajdabiya, and was trained on the use of weapons and explosives at the hands of a terrorist named Mahmoud al-Muhandis of Egyptian nationality, who was killed in an operation of the armed forces in January of 2019 along with Abu Talha al-Hasnawi.

Hassan, through accompanying Mukhtar bin Mukhtar, was assigned to transfer everything necessary for al-Qaeda between Libya, Mali, and the Islamic Maghreb. He provided in Ubari, and other areas in the southwest, accommodation for terrorists from other countries, where he received and then transferred them as requested by the organization, He transferred dozens and hundreds of them to Mali to participate in the recent operations there. In 2015, he sent a group of terrorists to Benghazi to fight the LNA, which eliminated them there.

This dangerous terrorist acted as if he was responsible for the al-Qaeda organization in Libya, especially after the injury suffered by Abu Ammar  the terrorist after the killing of Abdul-Malik who died on 3rd June 2020. I fear that there will be another link between western Libya and southwestern Libya for al-Qaeda to transfers weapons, money, and ammunition from western Libya to the southwest, from which it spreads throughout Libya.

The operation carried out by the General Command is not national and local, but regional. We found in Hasan al-Washi’s house Algerian passports, many other very critical documents, and very large quantities of ammunition, weapons, and missiles. I believe that weapons have been stored for some time and prepared for transportation. Investigations are underway as to where they are being transported: Is it for the Oil Crescent, Mali, or elsewhere?

Libya Al-Hadath: Is it true that you have information that this group received financing, weapons, and ammunition from parties inside Libya?

Major General Ahmed al-Mismari: Finding this amount of ammunition and weapons indicates that there are support groups, organizations, or countries behind these groups. I believe that the organization has now been dealt a heavy blow in terms of weapons, blocking the road, dismantling one of the supply chains between Mali, Niger, Algeria, and the organization in Libya. Add to this blocking the  way between western Libya and the southwest.

I think this is an excellent point in front of the international community that usually tracks and hunts in the troubled waters for the armed forces. This is an integrated operation of the armed forces and a message that terrorism has no religion, people, or incubator, and should not be tolerated. We have found videos in the past days of beheadings and the most heinous types of operations against humanity and all customs and laws.

Libya Al-Hadath: Have you found these videos of massacres and brutal violations in the same targeted location?

Major General Ahmed al-Mismari: I received some videos, and I would like to verify their source. All of them follow al-Qaeda directly. In January 2016, when we carried out an operation against Abu Talha, it was directly against al-Qaeda. Abdul-Moneim al-Hasnawi followed al-Zawahiri directly. Mahmoud al-Muhandis who was killed with him, an Egyptian, trained Hassan to fight. This group does not follow the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) but rather Ansar al-Sharia.

Libya Al-Hadath: Al-Muhandis, who died in the operation that the army carried out against Abu Talha and al- Washi, was with Abdul-Malik Droukdel, the leader of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, who was killed in a French raid months ago. Was he with him while targeting?

Major General Ahmed al-Mismari: I do not think so. He was under his command as he was under the leadership of al-Qaeda leader al-Mukhtar, after the killing of al-Mukhtar, Abdul-Malik Droukdel took over the leadership of the organization.

Abdul-Malik Droukdel, leader of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, recently killed by French forces.

Before his death, he tasked Omar [al-Washi] with preserving the transportation link between Libya and Islamic State in Mali, Niger, and the Islamic Maghreb because it is very important for terrorists to move from Mali to Libya and vice versa and Algeria. We fear that al-Qaeda sends weapons supplies to the Libyan southwest to be transferred to neighboring countries.

Libya Al-Hadath: You described the specific operation as a severe blow to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. Do you think that the strike that took place in Ubari will affect the organization’s activities in the region?

Major General Ahmed al-Mismari: Al-Qaeda and Islamic State operatives always wear explosive belts because they expect to be arrested. Therefore, it is rare to arrest them alive in any operation. Due to the professionalism, confidentiality, good information, and exact orders in this operation, we managed to arrest them alive, which is a great achievement. We have a massive data bank that turn into very important documents and information. We will cooperate with neighboring countries in exchanging information about terrorists.

Information from Ubari indicates that the weapons and ammunition were not from the region, but transferred from abroad. The investigations will reveal the facts.

Libya Al-Hadath: Is there a link between this arrested group and the group that died in the Abdul-Kafi neighborhood operation in Sebha?

Major General Ahmed al-Mismari: Al-Tikriti in Sebha, along with the 9 people affiliated with Islamic State; these belong to al-Qaeda. They differ in orientations but have the same creed: slaughtering and killing. They differ only in terms of leaders.

The groups do not want stability for the Libyan state or other countries. They prepare groups, weapons, and ammunition to carry out terrorist operations against innocent people, oil installations, agricultural production companies, and military personnel, regardless of their type.

Libya Al-Hadath: Do you expect that since Hassan al-Washi came from Mali a week ago to coordinate with the cells, the information you would obtain might bring down more sleeper cells we currently know nothing?

Major General Ahmed al-Mismari: Certainly, the organization, from the moment the news spread, changed many of its places and positions, and transferred weapons and ammunition from one place to another. I warn our armed forces in the military region of Sebha, Brak al-Shati, Murzuq, Ubari, and Ghat that the organization may seek a counter-strike against the army. I believe that after the killing of Abu Abdullah Al-Tikriti‘s group in Sebha, two assassinations took place in revenge for them. The organization may now hide and stay quiet, but we expect it to respond.

The agencies must take the utmost caution and attention. We stress the role of the Libyan citizens who care about Libya and its security, and call upon them to contribute any information on these groups and their movements, especially in the southwest. The organization has usually carried out very large terrorist operations.

The misleading media broadcasting from Qatar during the past 24 hours are trying to incite our Tuareg brothers. These do not represent the Tuareg, who are represented by the late Major General Hussein al-Koni, who was an officer of the armed forces, a Libyan who carried its banner and defended it. Our officers and army on the borders of Algeria protect the homeland. Our people are united with our armed forces and refused to sell Libya. These are the true representatives of the Tuareg and we align ourselves with them.

The misleading media broadcasting from Qatar during the past 24 hours are trying to incite our Tuareg brothers. These do not represent the Tuareg, who are represented by the late Major General Hussein al-Koni, who was an officer of the armed forces, a Libyan who carried its banner and defended it. Our officers and army on the borders of Algeria protect the homeland. Our people are united with our armed forces and refused to sell Libya. These are the true representatives of the Tuareg and we align ourselves with them.

Gununu claimed that the operation killed children in Ubari and was a war against the Tuareg. What war against the Tuareg? Which child died in Ubari? The forces did not fire a single shot. Some try to mislead the public opinion by exploiting any loophole. They try to undermine the successes with false lies. The Libyan people must trust their army and their children in the battle, which we must continue. Those who sow sedition in the media are paid horns who eye positions and nothing more.

Libya Al-Hadath: AFRICOM has targeted Ubari and the targeted neighborhood more than once. What is the secret? Why do terrorist groups use this area as a hideout, specifically the al-Sharif neighborhood?

Major General Ahmed al-Mismari: This area is very large, extending over a very rugged mountain range. They always concentrate in difficult terrain because entry to it is limited and maneuvering is difficult and thus they can defend, escape, and hide. The cars that entered were huge, but no one paid attention to that. This is a border area and it is easy to mix and hide in it. Therefore, the groups take advantage of the social and tribal factors in this region. The tribes do not protect a criminal and a terrorist who has sold the homeland.

They must preserve Ubari because it is a line of transportation with the Maghreb. After all, it is the secured line. They spread along a wide line in Mali and spread in Niger and Boko Haram. They want to preserve Libya because it is a good financial source. Khaled al-Sharif from the LIFG controlled the Ministry of Finance one day and financed them.

Libya Al-Hadath: Muhammad Gununu deplored the operation carried out by the army against al-Qaeda militants, considering it a violation of the ceasefire and aggression on Ubari? How do you respond to that?

Major General Ahmed al-Mismari: It seems that he did not read the Geneva outcomes and did not see the 5+5 dialogues. He spoke in the name of whom? The officers of the Presidential Council signed the Geneva Agreement. We work within an international system because fighting terrorism is an international action. Some people do not want peace or a ceasefire because this will remove them from the Libyan game. If Gununu does not know that the organization killed people in Benghazi and played ball with their heads, then this is very dangerous. He has orders to spoil the results of the 5+5 committee and find justifications to continue the war after it was confirmed that many of its militias would be off the table, especially as the outcomes stipulate disbanding the militias.

The operation was carried out at the highest level and in a very professional manner. If he was a spokesman for the army of Fayez al-Sarraj, then we are waiting for an official justification according to the 5+5 agreement. If he represents other militias, let him continue to do so until we come to him and his militias.

Libya Al-Hadath: Other statements by Hussein al-Ansari, a member of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF), were reprehensible and he criticized the army operation that targeted the al-Qaeda, considering it a clear violation of Ubari’s sanctity.

Major General Ahmed al-Mismari: As for military operations, especially security ones, we cannot in any way talk about them to any party. It is not his right to demand us to request any permission, because we do not ask permission from anyone. Did he ask AFRICOM to get permission when it bombed the terrorists in that area? What is his relationship with these Libyans? If he had evidence that they were not from al-Qaeda, he should provide it to the General Command.

I think he does not know who they are. I advise him to wait for the investigations because the General Command will announce everything allowed to be published. He should not judge this operation prematurely.

Libya Al-Hadath: Are not such statements as explicit support for terrorism?

Major General Ahmed al-Mismari: Some people are very afraid of the results of the existing dialogue and rapprochement at all levels. Since 2011, they wanted to destroy the Libyan army and depots and planes. These paid trumpets inside receive orders from abroad and thus do not want any political process to succeed in Libya unless that one that places them at the helm of the Libyan state. This is another matter. There is a dialogue going on now, and we salute all its parties.

We expected that the Geneva Declaration would go to the United Nations and become a binding resolution and not be a mere press release because it is good. We are satisfied with it, reached the implementation stage, and agreed on it. In Sirte, army officers began to meet. We hope that it will be referred to the United Nations to be an official and binding resolution. Whoever opposes it wants ruin for Libya and obstruct the endeavors to make it a UN-binding resolution.

Libya Al-Hadath: There are statements by [Osama] al-Juwaili and Salah Badi, all of which are extremist statements aimed at obstructing the progress made on various tracks, most notably the military one. Many say that these parties may have a great influence on the ground in the western region. Can they obstruct the implementation of any agreement agreed upon in the Joint Military Committee?

Major General Ahmed al-Mismari: This file proceeds well and I am in contact with my fellow officers in the committee. We are optimistic and we will see how the United Nations, which has become an observer of the agreement and the Geneva outcomes, will deal with those who reject the agreements. It is better for us now to remain silent. We still look at the file positively and the Commander-in-Chief [Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar] still recommends removing obstacles to any agreement reached by the 5+5 Committee. He feels very satisfied with what the committee has reached.

The 10-member committee has proven its patriotism. I have not stated anything in any press conference because such statements are now the prerogative of the United Nations. We await the reaction of the international community to the negative feedback from here and there.

Libya Al-Hadath: As for Turkey’s provocations, Erdogan decided to obstruct any dialogues and progress between the Libyans. The airlift from Turkey to Misrata and transporting weapons and ammunition by sea continue. Do you think there may be a decision by Erdogan to turn the table?

Major General Ahmed al-Mismari: UNSMIL has given Turkey and the mercenaries 90 days to leave, but what is happening on the ground is the opposite and it does foretell lack of positive action towards the agreements of the 5+5 Committee. The landing of 4 to 6 military and civilian cargo planes daily from Turkey indicates that Erdogan does not want to leave. We believe that he will not do so by resolutions, but rather through something else he seeks.

We expected a prompt response from UNSMIL to confirm that he had violated the agreement, especially the signing of a training agreement with Qatar. The disaster is that Qatar is training Libyans. We expected UNSMIL to fight back and block the steps that Qatar and Turkey are taking to establish themselves in Libya before the lapse of the 90 days, i.e. a de-facto policy to say that they are in Libya to stay. This further complicates the situation and the crisis.

Regarding the operation we carried out, we found Algerian documents in Hassan’s house. We do not know whether the Algerian elements are part of the organization. I think they are cells scattered either in Algeria or Libya. The operation we performed is real, not a cliché.

© Al-Marsad English (2020)