Islamic State maritime trade
Five Dimension consultants based in Dubai have been given information suggesting the Islamic State (IS) is intensifying the use of maritime shipping and cargo front companies in Turkey and Libya. They are reported operating in cooperation with human trafficking networks, to supply their “provinces” in Libya and the Sinai with money, men and equipment.
Reports from individuals in Syria and Turkey with first hand knowledge of the workings of the IS commercial agents in Turkey, told Five Dimensions that “the latter are now operating more than one maritime shipping and cargo company out of ports in South Turkey”.
They added, “The purpose of these companies is to ship expert IS fighters along with much needed cash and equipment into Libyan seaports, especially the small port of Sirte which is under the Libyan IS’s control”.
The IS Mufti, and now leader of the IS in Libya –Turki al-Binali (AKA Abu Sufian al-Sulami), a Bahraini national, was smuggled into Libya from a Turkish seaport in a cargo ship operated by one of IS’s shipping companies in Turkey.
In addition to people, cash and equipment (electronics, navigation gadgets and more) are leaving Turkish ports the same way and heading to Libyan IS controlled territories.
It is reported that Turkish customs officials pay less scrutiny to ships leaving ports in Turkey than ships coming into Turkey, especially from Libya, which might explain the lack of anti-aircraft missiles (MANPADS) and other sophisticated weapons leaving Libya for Turkey and then into the hands of the IS.
It is believed that there is an ever increasing level of cooperation and codependency between the IS and human trafficking or people smuggling networks in Turkey and across the Mediterranean to move IS personnel and equipment the same way people are being trafficked from the south Mediterranean (especially Libya) towards European shores. The devastating consequences of this are almost a daily report in the news coming out of Italy.
The IS is increasingly acting as the “IS Inc” in the sense that it is creating an elaborate network of supply routes that blend legal and illegal commercial operations to disguise intentions, destinations, and contents.
Keeping the IS’s 4,000 core troops in Libya well financed requires a considerable amount of cash and safe passage of these funds. Therefore the ever evolving alliance between the IS and the people trafficking networks with whom the IS has dealt lucratively for over 18 months now to smuggle people across the Turkish border into its territories in Syria has now extended into navigating the sea-lanes of the Mediterranean between Libya and Turkey.
The arrangement could potentially extend further to include the smuggling of experienced and battle hardened terror operatives to EU shores to carry out terror attacks inside EU countries.
The IS’s financial capability is now boosted by an ever extending reach into the sea-lanes of the Mediterranean, and the implications for Europe cannot be underestimated.
An alarming factor in this equation for Egyptian security in the Sinai and the Suez Canal are smuggling routes that Bedouins on both sides of Egypt (from the Libyan border and the Siwa Oasis in the west to the Sinai in the East) will most likely be utilized by the IS in Libya to supply the IS province of Sinai with cash, expertise and equipment (including anti-tank weapons and MANPADS) to continue to wage a terror campaign against the Egyptian military and march slowly towards the Suez Canal.
One thing is clear, IS are expanding their influence almost as fast as Al Qaeda is losing it.
Details are reported by Aimen Dean
Five Dimension Consultants