Eritrean News: ISIS paid millions by billionaire godfather of people smuggling ring named the ‘General’
The brutal godfather of a £1billion pound Libyan people smuggling ring is pumping millions in protection money into Islamic State’s war-chest.
Dubbed the ‘General’, Libya-based Mafia boss Mered Medhanie, 34, is masterminding the shocking trail of misery in which thousands flee Africa on death boats across the Mediterranean.
Medhanie’s gangster network – dubbed “the Sopranos of Libya” – charges up to £1,500 a time for the risky Mediterranean passage to the coast of Italy.
Chillingly, The Daily Mirror has learned his henchmen are paying off Islamic State forces which are flooding into Libya, threatening to overrun the near-failed state.
Now America, Britain and other European nations are under increasing pressure to send a coalition of ground forces to secure the Libya-to-Italy sea route.
If that happens it is likely Britain’s elite Royal Marines would take the lead role as the UK’s spearhead amphibious force which is well-trained for such complex operations.
A senior Whitehall source told the Daily Mirror: “It is now very much in Europe’s interests to deal with this deadly problem by using all means necessary.
“This is imperative not just for humanitarian reasons but also for our own security – we need to take it head on and disrupt and eventually smash this trade in human misery.
“This is a threat to Britain’s security and affects the whole of Europe.”
British Navy top brass confirmed last week that 500,000 refugees are already massed in Libya ready to risk deadly sea journeys across the Med to Europe.
And we witnessed first hand Britain’s warship HMS Bulwark plucking 1,200 desperate migrants from the Mediterranean, saving them from almost certain death.
Migrants from war-zones, failed states and poverty-stricken regions all over Africa and Asia are flooding into Libya in the hope of catching a ride in one of the flimsy vessels setting sail for Italy.
Sources say The General’s gang are using the money to pay-off ISIS henchmen to allow migrants from Syria through key smuggling routes via Egypt and the Sinai Peninsula.
And they are doing the same across Africa where affiliate groups take bribes to allow migrants fleeing sectarian violence safe passage out.
But hours, sometimes days, after setting off from Libya they either drown, die from exposure or dehydration or are rescued by a flotilla of military and merchant ships passing through the Med.
A source said: “Many of these migrants pass through strips of the Middle East and North Africa controlled by extremists, who charge them for safe passage into Libya.
“Not only that but Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s war chest is being filled with protection money from all over the region and his latest scam is getting his hands on people smuggling money.”
The terror network controls key smuggling routes between Asia and Africa and experts estimate it could have military control of Libya within 18 months.
Sources say the General has taken care to buy favour with the Islamic State to purchase protection as they get closer to Tripoli.
Firas Abi Ali, Middle East expert for IHS Country Risk, which analyses threats for commercial companies, confirmed that Libya will fall into IS hands by December next year.
He said: “The Islamic State is likely to become the dominant force in Libya in the coming year to 18 months.
“There is no force in Libya capable of challenging the Islamic State due to the country’s deep fragmentation, the institutional vacuum the absence of professional military forces.”
Libya fell into chaos following the toppling of former despot President Gadaffi, who was killed in October 2011 after his regime was ousted in an uprising.
Now the General, who bases his smuggling operation in Tripoli, is rumoured to have a wife and child in Sweden and along with fellow trafficker Ethiopian-born Ermias Ghermay has made almost £1 billion in two years.
Last week HMS Bulwark steamed to rescue of a huge number of migrants before setting them down safely at Port Catania in Sicily.
Just that batch of 1,200 migrants would have netted smuggling gangs close to £1m.
The Royal Navy has seen migrants from almost 30 different nations from as far away as Bangladesh, Pakistan, Syria and across East and West Africa.
Hundreds of thousands are being funnelled to Libya as it is separated from Italy by just 250 miles of sea.
Once in Italy a complex network of gangs pick up migrants from Italian detention centres – with little resistance from authorities – and ferry them to other European nations.
Italian prosecutors say the perilous passage from Libya is actually the cheapest leg of the epic migration journey from Asia and Africa.
Smuggling a migrant from Eritrea or Ethiopia can cost up to £3,000.
They then pay hundreds of dollars more to get out of holding centres and at least another $1,000 to travel to northern Europe.
Payments for each leg are made up front, often using the Islamic hawala banking system which is based on an informal honour code in which a relative in northern Europe pays a local broker.
As ISIS opens more fronts in Africa smuggling networks are dolling out bribes so the terror gangs leave them alone.
And that massive flow of cash is finding its way to ISIS.