In the 1990s, the Qadhdhafi regime faced a limited and unsuccessful insurgency launched by the Islamic Fighting Group in Libya (Arabic: الجماعة الإسلامية المقاتلة بليبيا), more commonly known as the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group and usually abbreviated as LIFG in English.
In my view, the former translation of the full name is more appropriate, even if a debate about translating the full name might seem a little pedantic. The reason I mention this point is that the former translation conveys a better sense of the group's broader vision: namely, a jihadist group that happens to be in Libya for the time being, with ambitions not necessarily confined to Libya.
As becomes apparent from the initial statement that the group released in October 1995 CE, the main priority was to fight the Qadhdhafi regime in Libya, but the group also believed in jihad against those deemed Tawagheet ('idolatrous tyrants') more generally: that is, jihad against rulers who do not rule according to Islamic law. In addition, the Islamic Fighting Group in Libya affirms in this statement that jihad against the 'enemies of God' should continue until fitna should end and religion should belong wholly to God, which is a phrase derived from the Qur'an. Indeed, the Qur'anic phrase 'and fight them until there is no more fitna' also occurs on the group's emblem that appears at the bottom of the statement. In the context of the group's statement, the clear meaning is that Islam should prevail throughout the world.
Of interest is the Islamic Fighting Group in Libya's extension of regards to all tawa'if mujahida ('mujahid sects', or could perhaps be translated as 'mujahid groups') seen as fighting in defence of Islam and Muslims. For comparison, one should note the interview with the amir of the Armed Islamic Group (GIA) in Algeria that was published in the GIA's magazine in September 1996 CE. In that interview, the GIA amir disparaged the Islamic Fighting Group in Libya, claiming that it was only Salafi on paper and that the group was in fact closer to the Muslim Brotherhood ideologically. Among other things, the GIA amir asserts that the group met with Djazarists and that the group's amir stated that there was no problem with working with 'people of innovation,' contrasting (as per his narrative) with the GIA's insistence on a true Salafi ideological orientation. For its part, the Islamic Fighting Group in Libya had distanced itself from the GIA.
Below is the first statement issued by the Islamic Fighting Group in Libya along with my translation of it. The statement was printed in the jihadist newsletter al-Ansar.
In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
Statement no. 1
Regarding the announcement of the rise of the Islamic Fighting Group in Libya
Praise be to God the Lord of the Worlds and prayers and peace be upon the lord of those sent, our lord Muhammad, and all his family and companions. As for what follows:
The Islamic Fighting Group announces its rise in order to undertake the obligation of jihad in the path of God Almighty and to get out men from worshipping men to worshipping the Lord of men and from the narrowness of this world to the breadth of this world and the Hereafter and from the oppression of the religions to the justice of Islam.
The time has come for the Islamic Fighting Group in Libya to come out from the phase of secrecy to the phase of public appearance in view of the sensitive stage through which jihadi work in Libya is going.
The Islamic Fighting Group also announces its responsibility for the blessed events of jihad that began from the month of 1416 AH in the areas of Libya in the east and west.
Confronting the Tughat of this age- from the likes of Qadhdhafi- has become among the foremost obligations after faith in God Almighty and that is so in order for the Shari'a of God- Almighty and Exalted is He- to rule and for the Muslims in Libya to enjoy the blessing of the life in the shade of this divine manhaj and to be rid of subjugation, wrongdoing and oppression that they have swallowed over the course of a quarter century of time in the shade of this oppressive era.
And indeed removing the likes of this apostate regime and ridding the Muslim people of Libya of their sufferings can only be realized with wounds, pains and sacrifices of lives and wealth, but the best interest is in implementing this divine command. The Almighty has said: "Fighting has been prescribed for you, though you dislike it. And it may be that you dislike something that is good for you and it may be that you like something that is bad for you, and God knows and you do not know"- al-Baqara 216.
The Islamic Fighting Group directs its call to the Muslim people of Libya to renew repentance to God Almighty and be established on His manhaj and comply with His rulings and dissociate themselves from this apostate regime that has renounced the religion of God Almighty, has subjugated and has differentiated the servants of al-Rahman and the allies of Satan: to the point that they should take their place in this battle alongside the mujahideen, not the oppressive Tughat.
And we give regards filled in all meanings of brotherhood, affection, mutual support and loyalty to all the mujahid sects that have arisen in defense of the religion of Islam and the oppressed of the Muslims in any areas of our Islamic world in order to revive the Ummah's glory and might and take revenge for it against the one who has lowered its dignity and sold its holy sites.
And we pledge to God- Blessed and Almighty is He- to continue on the path of the blessed jihad until the Tughyan fall and the religion of God- Almighty and Exalted is He- arises and then the believers rejoice in the victory of God.
The Islamic Fighting Group- General Policy
1. A Muslim group that prepares for jihad against the enemies of God Almighty- at the head of whom are the Tawagheet who rule through that besides which God has brought- until there is no more fitna and religion belongs entirely to God.
2. Belief, understanding and manhaj: the creed of the Ahl al-Sunna wa al-Jama'a and what the just predecessors were on from the companions and their followers with ihsan from following that which the evidence showed in belief and deed, with focus on the understanding of the reality in order to implement the ruling of God upon it.
3. Objective and aim: to please God- Almighty and Exalted is He- and work to establish His religion and enable it in the land.
4. Means: following the command of God Almighty to wage jihad in His path and call to Him through a group of an amir and pact to hear, obey and wage jihad.
5. Method of work:
a) Comprehensive preparing of members.
b) Benefiting from the principle of secrecy in work according to what the Shari'i interest demands.
c) Spreading consciousness and spreading the spirit of jihad and encouraging the believers to kill.
d) Adopting the position of support and allegiance to all mujahid sects in any of the regions.
e) Not submitting to any Taghut side and relying after God Almighty on its own resources in financing the path of jihad.
And God is the guarantor of success.
Thursday, 25 Jumada al-Awal 1416 AH
Corresponding to 18 October 1995 CE.
Islamic Fighting Group