Nine people were killed, including a U.S. security contractor, during an attack on a luxury hotel in Tripoli, Libya earlier this week. As one of the worst acts of violence against foreigners in the Mediterranean country since the 2011 overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi the assault highlights the growing reaches of Islamic State’s ideology outside of Iraq and Syria.
Several gunman stormed the Corinthia Hotel Tuesday morning firing on foreigners and detonating a car bomb, according to media reports. After hours under siege, the terrorists threw grenades at security forces raiding the hotel, killing themselves in the process. An online jihadist forum named two suicide bombers involved with the assault, suggesting one is Tunisian and the other Sudanese.
Thirty-four year old David Berry, a contractor employed with the Virginia-based firm Team Crucible, died during the attack. The former U.S. marine sergeant spoke fluent Arabic and held “experience in the special operations and intelligence communities,” according to his Linkedin profile. A French citizen was also killed.
An armored vehicle outside the Corinthia Hotel in Tripoli, Libya. (Photo: AFP)
A twitter account associated with Islamic State’s Tripoli branch took responsibility for storming the hotel, but it remains unclear whether IS leaders in Iraq or Syria directed the attack. Jihadist communities online claim to have IS cells in at least four other Libyan cities.
Tuesday’s attack shows how the spread of Islamic State’s violent ideology has spread throughout the Levant and into the Maghreb. In Sinai, Egyptian insurgents with Ansar Bait al-Maqdis pledged allegiance to Islamic State in November, adopting tactics such as beheadings and posting propaganda videos. In nearby Gaza, IS leaflets have threaten women and writers with death if they do not follow Sharia Law, while black Jihadist flags are flown at mosques and schools. With failed states or incompetent governments throughout the region, Islamic State may find it easy to recruit disaffected locals to fill its ranks.
Editors note: Three Americans and one Afghan were killed yesterday at the Kabul Airport, possibly by a man in an Afghan army uniform. InCONTEXT will report details when available.