By Sami Zaptia.
London, 10 June 2017:
A report by the United Nations has confirmed that repeated attacks by Libyan militias, including Ansar Sharia, on its Civil Registry offices, are aimed at obtaining fake passports – ostensibly for illicit, illegal or terrorist activities.
The revelation came in the UN Libyan Experts Panel final report presented to the Security Council dated 1 June released last week.
The report states that ‘‘all Libyan parties, including Ansar al Sharia Benghazi and Ansar al-Sharia Sirte, competed to control the (Libyan) Civil Registry Authority and passport administrations. This allowed them to illegally issue passports, including to foreign fighters who subsequently travelled abroad’’.
‘‘The (UN Libya Experts) Panel has reviewed copies of illegally issued passports and was able to confirm the identity of one Sudanese national, who obtained such a passport in Misrata and travelled to Turkey in May 2015. In August 2015, Turkish authorities imposed visas on Libyan nationals travelling to Turkey in order to limit security risks posed by the political developments in Libya’’.
‘‘Civil Register Agency sources confirmed to the Panel that they do not have a Libyan national under the same name figuring in the (photograph) passport and born in Benghazi on 1 January 1987 in their register. They also confirmed that the passport was issued illegally in Misrata. The beneficiary of the passport (a Sudanese national) used this passport to travel to Turkey between May and September 2015’’.
The UN report stressed that ‘‘this is not an isolated incident. In January 2015, Ansar Sharia Sirte had taken control of the Passport Administration in order to facilitate international travel of its foreign fighters. In Benghazi, Ansar Sharia Benghazi had also taken control of the Passport Administration before they lost it to the LNA in 2015’’.
‘‘On 10 October 2016, an armed group close to Al-Ghweil attacked the Civil Registry Authority and killed the Authority’s Director, Sadiq al-Nuhaysi. Armed groups repeatedly attacked the Authority’s branches to manipulate its data and be able to produce illegally issued passports’’, concluded the UN report.
The 299-page report clearly states that militias owe their loyalty to financial gain and not the internationally-recognized Libyan government. The UN report also underscores the need for Libya to have a regular army and police loyal to the legitimate civilian authorities and that attempts to build a state based on militias has so far proved unworkable.