The Islamic State (IS) terror group’s Libya branch is reportedly using a flight simulator to train jihadis on how to pilot aircraft, after successfully apprehending the system from an airport once held by Libya’s recognized military under former dictator Muammar Qaddafi.
A separate, unidentified senior military source in Libya told the Saudi-run, London-based Asharq Al-Awsat that “it’s a modern simulator, which may have arrived from abroad,” which is about the size of a sedan. “The simulator is complete with a steering wheel to practice takeoff and landing, a radar screen, and a communications device to contact the control tower,” the report said.
Breitbart News has reported on the Islamic State’s gains throughout Libya, retaining an iron-fisted grip on the Libyan coastal city of Sirte, which offers the jihadis unimpeded access to the Mediterranean Sea.
The Islamic State now controls Libya’s Ghardabiya Air Base, which was bombed by U.S. forces in 2011 as part of an effort to successfully depose Qaddafi.
It remains unclear if the Islamic State affiliate in Libya has access to commercial airliners or fighter jets. However, Islamist militias in the country who share ideals with the jihadi group do have fighter jets in service. The “Libya Dawn” Islamist coalition possesses Mig-25 interceptors and Mig-23s, fighter planes that originated in the Soviet Union. The Islamist rebels also have access to full-size commercial jets.
A Libyan official told the Saudi outlet that the Islamic State leaders in Libya are made up of retired military officers from Libya and neighboring countries. He added that the simulator device is for civilian planes. Moreover, Libyan sources have received intelligence that Islamic State has also acquired a fighter jet simulator, according to the report.
Due to the ongoing civil war in the country, IS has been able to protect their simulators at a well-protected base within their stronghold, the report said, adding that previous attempts to destroy the jihadi facilities have failed.
Separately, the United Nations published a report this week that found both the Islamic State and Al Qaeda to be growing relatively unimpededly in Libya.
Libya’s continuing destabilization presents a unique “opportunity” for groups like Al Qaeda and the Islamic State “to opportunistically exploit and complicate an already difficult situation on the ground, the report warned, adding IS could continue to “seek local alliances to expand its territorial control.”