Abdulrahman Milad, also known as “Al-Bidja”, appeared in a video on Wednesday during which he thanked Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for supporting forces aligned with the Government of National Accord (GNA), of which he is part.
Al-Bidja recently made international headlines for linking the Libyan coastguard and the GNA to human trafficking networks in western Libya.
The video released by Al-Bidja puts the UN-backed government in the difficult position of once again having to justify its ties with known human traffickers that have been admonished by the UN itself.
In 2017, Al-Bidja participated in a meeting with Italian officials and a delegation from the Libyan coastguard at Cara di Mineo, in Catania, one of the biggest migrant reception centers in Europe. Al-Bidja’s presence at the meeting was documented by the Italian newspaper Avvenire.
On 7 June 2018, the UN Security Council Committee approved the addition of both Abdulrahman Milad “Al-Bidja” and Ahmed Al-Dabbashi “Al-Ammo” to its sanction list. The list prescribes asset freezes, travel bans and other measures related to attempts to illicitly export petroleum from Libya.
Al-Bidja, who heads the regional unit of the Coast Guard in Zawiya, was added to the UN sanctions list after being consistently linked to human trafficking networks, violence against migrants, in addition to being directly involved in the sinking of migrant boats using firearms.
Ahmed Al-Dabbashi “Al-Ammo”, the commander of the Anas al-Dabbashi militia that formerly operated in the coastal area between Sabratha and Melita, was added to the sanctions list as he is a significant leader in illicit activities related to human trafficking.
The Al-Dabbashi clan and militia also cultivate relationships with terrorist and violent extremist groups, in addition to having long-standing links to the Islamic State and its affiliates. Several IS operatives had been in its ranks, including Abdallah Al-Dabbashi, the IS ‘caliph’ of Sabratha.
In April 2019, “Al-Bidja” appeared in Tripoli fighting amongst forces aligned with the GNA against the Libyan National Army (LNA). Shortly thereafter, Al-Sadeeq Al-Soor, the Head of Investigations at the Attorney General’s office, issued an arrest warrant for Al-Bidja. The Attorney General’s office also formally suspended Al-Bidja from his official post with the Libyan coastguard and stopped paying his salary, in addition to freezing his bank accounts.
In October 2019, GNA Interior Minister Fathi Bashagha threatened Al-Bidja with sanctions and jail time earlier this year, but Al-Bidja responded in a public statement published online that he was an appointed member of the Libyan coastguard and did not fall under the Ministry of Interior’s authority.
In April 2020, both Abdulrahman Milad and Ahmed Al-Dabbashi led the GNA’s attack on the city of Sabratha. Al-Dabbashi later appeared in a video addressed to locals in which he claimed authority over the city.