ISIL Wants Its Own Navy


Published Feb 1, 2016 3:48 PM by The Maritime Executive

A senior NATO naval officer has warned that extremist group ISIL wants its own navy.

The navy would present a risk to commercial shipping and cruise ships in the Mediterranean, according Royal Navy’s Vice-Admiral Clive Johnstone, who spoke of the threat on board a Spanish NATO ship last week.

The rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant along the Libyan coast has cast an “uncomfortable shadow” across shipping. This coupled with the spread of arms in the region means a “horrible opportunity” exists, he said.

“We know they have had ambitions to go off shore, we know they would like to have a maritime arm, just as al Qaeda had a maritime arm.”

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is also known as ISIS or Daesh, and the group refers to itself as the Islamic State

Johnstone said: “I think it won’t be a planned, horrible mischievous act, I think it will be an act which is almost a mistake, or it will be an act of random terrorism that will suddenly have extraordinary implications for the Western world.”

NATO mustn’t think the Mediterranean is just about immigration, he said. “It is the spread along the North African seaboard; it is the Daesh entry into Libya; it is the Daesh control of Sirte and other places, which has an uncomfortable shadow over maritime trade and maritime access.”

Johnstone was appointed Commander Allied Maritime Command in October 2015.