A Libyan security source who declined to be identified has told Arab 21 that the Al-Tabu entity allied with Khalifah Haftar, commander of the army aligned to the dissolved Tabruq Parliament, is actively transporting thousands of illegal emigrants from the south of Libya to the north. The emigrants are taken along routes protected by Al-Tabu starting from Abari in the south to Sabha all the way to the city of Tabruq in the extreme north of Libya in addition to Al-Qubbah, Al-Bayda, Ajdabya and Sirt in the east.
The source added that Al-Tabu undertake the responsibility of delivering illegal emigrants from the Libyan west to Al-Zintan in the Western Mountain. They then transport them via smugglers from Al-Zintan and Zawarah until they reach the main smuggling point in Zawarah Port to the west of Tripoli.
Another smuggling route, according to the source, is supervised by the Awlad Ali tribes who live along the eastern Libyan borders. They operate with the knowledge and collaboration of the Egyptian authorities. The Libyan-Egyptian borders, he added, are semi open and subject to no control. Each person pays one hundred Libyan dinars to the Awlad Ali smugglers on the Egyptian side to be conveyed to the border town of Imsaed via a smuggling network run by officers within the Egyptian army and intelligence services who receive a commission for each emigrant they smuggle.
The security source also said that thousands of persons cross the Libyan-Egyptian borders every month, some legally and others illegally.
The source said that nearly 40 per cent of smuggling occurs via south Libya while 30 per cent occurs via the borders with Egypt. The remaining percentage occurs via other crossing points with Tunisia, Algeria and Sudan.
The management of the illegal emigration networks is shared by Issa Abd Al-Majid, head of the Al-Tabu component and advisor on Africa affairs in the disbanded parliament, together with Awlad Ali, smugglers from Al-Zawiy tribe in Al-Kafrah in the Southeast of Libya and some chieftains from the tribe of Al-Ubaydat in Al-Jabal Al-Akhdar. They all run smuggling networks with the knowledge and directives of General Khalifah Haftar.
Haftar in the footsteps of Qaddafi
Observers of Libyan affairs have confirmed that Khalifah Haftar does indeed exploit the issue of illegal emigration in exactly the same way as did the late Colonel Muammar Al-Qaddafi in order to pressure countries of the European Union to intervene in Libya and support him directly. They also point to the existence of coordination between Haftar on the one hand and Al-Tabu and Zintan leaders as well as Ahmad Qadhaf Al-Dam, former head of Libyan-Egyptian investments on the other.
It is noteworthy that Britain, Germany and several other European states have dispatched naval ships and aircraft to the areas off the Libyan coast in order to assist in rescuing illegal migrants. This comes in the aftermath of last week’s drowning of around 900 persons just before arriving at the Italian coast.