Dozens of residents of a town in eastern Libya have pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of the Islamic State (IS/ISIL) militants fighting in Syria and Iraq.
Around 50 young people could be seen in a video posted on social media gathering in Derna to support Baghdadi, who calls himself “Caliph,” or Muslim leader, of IS, an Al-Qaeda offshoot.
There has been growing concern among Western nations and Libya’s neighbors that IS is trying to exploit lawlessness in the oil producer where militant Islamists and other militias who helped topple Muammar Qaddafi in 2011 are carving out fiefdoms.
Derna, a port halfway between the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi and the Egyptian border, has since 2011 turned into a gathering point for militant Islamists and Al-Qaeda sympathisers.
Fifteen foreign members of IS traveled to Derna from Syria in September trying to rally support and establish an ISIS branch in Libya, Egyptian security officials have said.
Youths driving through the town waiving IS flags could be seen after the visit, according to a video on social media.
Derna, already a stronghold of Islamist opposition under Qaddafi, has also made headlines with pictures of Islamic courts and police stations.
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