The government of Italy appears to be taking seriously the threats posed by the Islamic State (ISIS) to its nation. Italian officials said on Monday that they are considering sending 5,000 troops into Libya to combat the country’s burgeoning jihadist presence.
In a recent video purportedly produced by the Islamic State’s Libya affiliate, the group slaughtered twenty-one Christians and vowed to seek out Rome as its next target. “And we will conquer Rome, by Allah’s permission, the promise of our prophet, peace be upon him,” a North American English-accented militant leader said after his comrades slaughtered the Christian hostages.
Italian Defense Minister Robert Pinotti said that the 5,000 troops were ready and willing to lead a unilateral mission if necessary.
Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said on Monday that “the proposal is to wait, so the U.N. Security council can work with a bit more conviction on Libya” in reaching a diplomatic accord, the Associated Press reported. The Italian head of state said that the U.N. should recruit “all the players, the local tribes, African Union countries, Arab countries, the Europeans” to fight ISIS in Libya.
Cabinet Undersecretary Enrico Zanetti said regarding the proposal, “From how things are evolving in Libya, frankly, it’s difficult to imagine a scenario different from a military kind of international intervention.”
On Sunday, Italy became the last Western state to close its embassy doors in Tripoli, the AP reports.
Libya is in the midst of an ongoing civil war between secular and Islamist forces. Libya’s dissolution came shortly after the 2011 U.S.-led effort to overthrow the country’s late dictator, Muammar Gaddafi. Since then, groups such as the Islamic State have emerged in the country, seeking to maintain a foothold in the power vacuum created by Gaddafi’s fall from power.
On Monday, the Egyptian air force carried out air strikes that neutralized over 60 Islamic State jihadis, according to The Washington Post. The strikes came in response to the Islamic State’s recent beheading of twenty-one Egyptian Coptic Christians who had been abducted while traveling in Libya.