In a series of horrifying events, Islamists have seized a major world capital, proclaiming their own government and presenting the world with another crisis, similar to the unstable threat ISIS poses.
The Muslim militia group Al-Fajr has taken control of Tripoli’s airports, flying the flag of Islam over the Libyan people.
The group has also overtaken other locations in the capital, in a coup called Operation Dawn, a combination of Islamist and forces from Misrata:
Fajr Libya (Operation Dawn), a coalition of Islamist and Misrata forces, captured the airport on Saturday in fierce fighting against pro-government militias after a five-week siege that has battered parts of the capital. Television images from the scene showed jubilant bearded militias dancing on wrecked airliners, firing machine guns in the air and chanting “Allah O Akbar” (“God is great”). On Sunday, they set the airport buildings ablaze, apparently intending to destroy rather than hold it.
After weeks of battling, the victory has secured extremist control over Tripoli, a city of 2.2 million people, which was triggered by Islamist parties losing elections in July.
“The general national congress will hold an emergency meeting in Tripoli to save the country,” said congress spokesman Omar Ahmidan.
Libyan parliament has labeled Operation Dawn a “terrorist organization,” after the attack leaves the country with two governments, one in Tripoli and one in the east.
There are few regular forces for the government to call on, with the prime minister, Abdullah Al Thinni needing to persuade nationalist and tribal militias to try to recapture the capital. Dawn militias are consolidating their hold on the capital by rounding up government sympathisers and people from Zintan, whose militia defended the airport.
“Units from Garyan and Abu Salem are circling the area looking for any Zintani they can find,” said one frightened resident hiding at an address in the city.
Perhaps the biggest immediate threat is that officials fear militants will use airliners at the three airports Fajr now controls for terror attacks on neighboring countries.
In response, Algeria has deployed air defense missiles, and Egypt and Tunisia have banned flights from western Libyan airports.
Footage shows Islamists dancing on wrecked planes and firing machine guns while chanting “Allahu Akbar.”