Who are the Extremists & Militiamen Libya’s UN-backed Government have appointed?

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On Friday, the Government of National Accord’s (GNA) Ministry of Defence issued a decision to entrust Muhammad Ibrahim Suleiman Balam, who previously fought for IS, to manage the exchange of detainees and bodies file.

According to an official decision issued in September, Balam was tasked with coordinating with the ministry-affiliated permanent committee for humanitarian affairs. This was to supervise the exchange of detainees and bodies and participate in all meetings in this regard.

Balam was born in 1991 and is a resident of the western Al-Salmani district of Benghazi. He had previously participated in the ‘Odkholo Alihum Al-Bab’ battle led by the Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council (BRSC) and Ansar Al-Sharia. He also participated in the battle of Benina against the Libyan National Army (LNA).

Earlier this week, pictures taken inside the MoD sparked widespread controversy on social media after they showed Muhammad Kashlaf, aka ‘Al-Qasab’, among the attendees in a ceremony held by Defence Minister Salah Al-Din Al-Namroush to honour directors of departments in the ministry’s office. Al-Qasab is a well-known oil smuggler throughout Libya’s western coast.

In July, the Ministry of Interior revealed that militia leader Muhammad Salem Bahroun, aka ‘Al-Faar’, was appointed as head of the criminal investigation department in Zawiya. Bahroun is among the most-wanted criminals by the Public Prosecutors Office, based on the instructions of the Head of the Investigation Division.

In September 2019, a leaked letter sent by Interior Minister, Fathi Bashagha, to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs revealed that Muhammad Abu Draa, known as ‘Al-Sandouk’, was appointed an employee at the Libyan Embassy in Turkey.

Abu Draa, a key figure at Al-Nawasi militia, was included on the Interpol’s list of internationally wanted criminals in June 2019.

In August, a security source in the Libyan city of Misrata revealed the return of an Al-Qaeda aligned fighter, Ziad Balam, to Libya after a medical trip to Turkey. Balam is one of the most prominent leaders in the Al-Morsi Brigade. He fought for the Omar Al-Mukhtar Brigade of Al-Qaeda in 2011, before he was assigned to command the Saraya Malik Brigade, affiliated to the Ansar Sharia organization.

Extremist leader, Faraj Shuko, was also reported to have fought on behalf of the GNA this year.
A member of the BRSC, he joined militias from Zawiya during their attack against the city of Surman in April.

He is on the LNA’s list of most wanted criminals in Libya. He was also spotted hoisting the flag of IS over a heavy vehicle in Benghazi, before its takeover by LNA forces.