The city of Derna in eastern Libya has suffered from the impact of years of instability and insecurity when it was settled by terrorist organizations. Since its liberation, the city has been seeking to restore its luster as one of the most beautiful cities in the country, while efforts to secure it from the remnants of terrorism continue.
Derna was the headquarters of a number of leaders of al-Qaeda and ISIS, allied under one framework called the Derna Mujahideen Shura Council.
Starting in 2014, the terrorist organizations in Derna, especially ISIS, imposed financial royalties on merchants and owners of gold shops and car showrooms, also bargaining with merchants for their lives and the lives of their relatives in exchange for huge sums of money.
Blood days in Derna
One of the merchants who was subjected to ISIS threats says that he witnessed the bombing of a shop in the city after its owner was unable to pay a royalty imposed on him, estimated at 5,000 dinars.
In 2020, the remnants of the leaders of the Derna Mujahideen Shura Council surrendered to the forces of the Libyan National Army (LNA) after besieging their last strongholds and restricting their outlets, in the last military operation to liberate the old city in Derna from terrorism.
Security sources said at the time that between 50 and 60 fighters of the Shura Council surrendered to the LNA, including the former spokesman, Hafiz Miftah al-Dabaa, and the group’s international wanted military official, Abu Hafs al-Mauritani, in addition to the wounded, women and children belonging to the terrorist groups.
Liberation of “Kandahar of Libya”
More than seven years after it was taken by terrorist groups, the liberation of Derna brought about important strategic shifts in the Libyan scene. The city, which was called the “Kandahar of Libya”, represented the first emirate belonging to al-Qaeda on the southern bank of the Mediterranean. The various forces of political Islamism considered it a workshop of activity, returning to the bosom of the homeland after removing the black robe from it, and ending a dark period in its history, so that its liberation and purification from the taint of terrorists would be a victory for the city and the sovereignty of the state, and a defeat for the project of extremism and takfirism.
LNA commander Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar said in previous statements, “We hoped that the Derna case would end peacefully without resorting to the use of force three years ago, but to no avail, until it became clear to us that there was no way to liberate Derna except by force because of the stubbornness of the terrorist forces that controlled it and practiced the worst types of injustice and oppression against the local population, isolating the city from the rest of the country, and applying to its people satanic laws. When all peaceful endeavors failed, we were left with nothing but armed confrontation and the announcement of the zero hour to liberate it by force. Derna is a city dear to all Libyans, and we cannot allow it to be separated from Libya and to remain in the hands of terrorists.”
“The announcement of the liberation of Derna means the return of the city in which the terrorists are fortified and who impose their own laws on its residents to the bosom of the homeland, the release of its captivity and the end of their control over it, highlighting that the war against terrorism is difficult and long and the price is exorbitant. As soon as the army finishes its role in demolishing the strongholds of terrorism and eliminating its leaders, so that the role of the security services begins, which is also a difficult task,” Haftar added.