On Saturday, Libya’s 5+5 Joint Military Commission (JMC) denounced a statement by the United States (US) State Department in which it had dubbed the Libyan Internal Security Agency (ISA) as a “militia.”
In a statement, the JMC Commission said that the ISA is “one of the security institutions affiliated with the Libyan state”.
It added that all measures taken by the agency are of a legal nature and within its competence.
This comes in the aftermath of ISA’s arrest of a second US citizen in Libya on charges of alleged Christian proselytizing in the North African nation.
The arrest came a day after another US citizen, who was also teaching at the same private language school in the capital Tripoli, was detained for “inciting our children to renounce Islam and convert to Christianity“.
On Thursday, the ISA said it had arrested the center’s assistant director in Tripoli, identifying him by the initials “SBO”.
It accused him of operating “in the company of his wife as a missionary on behalf of the organization ‘Assemblies of God’ in order to seduce the sons of our Muslim people.”
Assemblies of God is a missionary organisation based in the southern US state of Arkansas.
While the security forces have not named the man arrested on Wednesday, Libyan media identified him as Jeff Wilson, the founder of the consulting firm Libya Business.
Libyan security forces said Thursday it had also arrested two Libyans, including a 22-year-old woman who had allegedly converted to Christianity when she was 15.
In a video, she describes how she in turn became a “missionary” and tried to persuade other Libyans to switch faiths.
According to the US State Department’s travel instructions, Libya ranks fourth, with Americans warned not to travel there.
Libya was plunged into years of chaos and lawlessness after a NATO-backed uprising toppled and killed longtime leader Moammar Gaddafi in 2011. In the chaos that followed, the county split, with the rival administrations backed by rogue militias and foreign governments. The country’s current political crisis stems from the failure to hold elections on the 24th December 2021.
Notably, Islam is considered the state religion in Libya. Foreign Christians have the freedom to worship in the country.