Libya Slave Trade: How Isis Is Buying New Fighters for Next Phase of Jihad

The recent shocking scenes of Black African migrants paraded for sale to willing buyers for as little as $400 (£300) in Libya is a stab to humanity.

This evil practice has been going on in Libya since the fall of Gaddafi in 2012, but accounts made by victims have been met with the suspicion of "a cooked up story for asylum claim".

When it comes to slave trade, it is the demand that drives the supply and not the other way round.

What drives the increase in 'slave trade' auction markets in Libya has little to do with a need for cheap domestic servants, plantation workers or sexual exploitation.

These vulnerable young men and women are bought by organized crime groups and terrorist groups like the Islamic State (ISIS). They are groomed, converted, trained and recruited within these organizations at different levels, and some go on to be jihadists.

This new 'enlisting methodology' is so well orchestrated that even the 'slave merchants' and the vulnerable migrants are unaware that the person offering $1,000 at the back line is an agent of ISIS.

Migrants in Libya
African migrants, who were detained by UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) during recent clashes in the city, are gathered in a shelter in Sabratha on October 7, 2017, as a number of them is being moved to other shelters in the country. Reports have claimed people are being sold as modern-day slaves for as little as £300 ($400) in Libya. MAHMUD TURKIA/AFP/Getty Images

The instability caused primarily by a factional divide between the UN-backed government of National Accord in Tripoli and the Libya National Army in Benghazi and other jihadist groups spread all over Libya has created a vacuum, where impunity enjoyed by those who commit crimes against African migrants heading for Europe via Libya will be the norm in years to come.

The chaos in Libya has presented a real manifestation of a collaboration between organized crime and terrorism and this phenomenon is expanding dangerously in Libya.

ISIS no longer faces the problem of radicalizing young men and women via social media or trying to convince them to become jihadists. They simply buy them from the 'slave market', treat them better and groom them as mujahedeen.

As ISIS is desperate to re-emerge from the defeats suffered at the hands of the US Coalition in Raqqa and Mosul, these 'slave markets' provide them with an easy platform to recruit and radicalize more able men.

Becoming a Jihadist and one that believes in the extreme ideology is not an easy process for many, but ISIS has all the time and resources they need to groom these 'new recruits' and prepare them to strike against unsuspecting hard and soft targets when an opportunity presents itself, either across Europe, or back in their native land.

Left to prosper, the bi-product of 'slave turned jihadists' will continue to increase and the effect will have no respect for race, status and boundary.

Detention center in Libya
Migrants from sub-Saharan Africa rest inside a detention center in the Libyan capital Tripoli on June 4, 2015. Reports have claimed people are being sold as modern-day slaves for as little as £300 ($400) in Libya. MAHMUD TURKIA/AFP/Getty Images)

The instability and porous borders along Central Africa (Niger, Senegal, Gambia, Nigeria to name a few) and North Africa and Libya will bring the continent to its knees if not addressed.

Across the Mediterranean, the desperate practice of some European states to financially engage with unscrupulous factions within Libya to prevent African migrants by all and any means necessary from reaching European shores has grown into African migrants being stored in Libya in very inhuman conditions in the name of deterrence.

This triangular desperateness (Libya authorities, migrants, European states) has given legitimacy to organized crime groups to maltreat migrants without no regard for their basic human rights.

All African nations represented in the African Union (AU) and the UN, EU, US and UK, are well advised to intervene and take a front desk role.

As a matter of priority, proactive community-based interventions must be promoted at various levels in source countries to encourage young men and women to engage in active citizenry.

European states should seriously reconsider the 'throwing money at the problem' approach for short term benefits and long term disaster for humanity and the black race.

The current strategy is void of proportionality. As long as the region of North, central Africa and Libya in particular remains unstable and without a unitary government with full legitimacy and responsibility, no amount of investigation, poetry, global sympathy or protest will save these vulnerable Africans caught between 'ISIS and the deep blue sea'.

For young, vulnerable and naive African migrants with no better alternative, risking everything is the only hope of survival. For ISIS and other organized crime groups in the region, desperate African migrants are a means to a much sinister end.

Libya slave trade
People take part in a demonstration against slavery in Libya, on November 25, 2017 in Marseille, southern France. ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP/Getty Images

David Otto is the Director of TGS Intelligence Consultants Ltd and the Preventing Radicalisation and Violent Extremism Programme – Step In Step Out (SISO) - based in the United Kingdom. He is also Senior Counter Terrorism Advisor for Global Risk International. Follow Otto on Twitter.