Jawhar Farhat

Tripoli, Libya’s capital city, has seen governance by a range of armed forces with shifting loyalties. Since the conflict began in 2011, these militias have navigated changing political landscapes and internal conflicts.

Despite this, control over Tripoli stabilized. Armed groups united under the then-Government of National Accord against Major General Khalifa Haftar’s attempted capture in June 2020.

Furthermore, despite operating under government names and with multiple security capacities during different governance eras, these armed groups now display superficial government affiliations. Examples include official crests and online presence. However, their actions diverge significantly from those of traditional law enforcement and military units. Almost all of these groups are implicated in the city’s violence, ranging from inter-group clashes to kidnappings and forced disappearances.

While numerous armed factions operate in Tripoli and its vicinity, not all hold significant sway or territorial control. Here are the most notable armed groups currently active in Tripoli.

1.0 The RADA Special Deterrence Forces

Commander: Abdul Raouf Kara
Ministry Affiliation: Libyan Presidential Council
Headquarters: Mitiga base, Tripoli

1.1: History and Disposition 

Officially called the “Deterrence Agency for Combating Terrorism and Organized Crime this armed group more commonly called the Special Deterrence Brigade and is one of the factions involved in the current fighting in Tripoli. Established in 2013, it was led by Lieutenant Abdul Raouf Kara, a Salafist, and comprised a group of “revolutionaries.” 

In 2018, the Government of National Accord disbanded and reorganized the battalion, renaming it the “Deterrence Agency for Combating Terrorism and Organized Crime.” It was granted authority to establish branches nationwide and bestowed with extensive powers for arrests and investigations. These decisions significantly increased the battalion’s significance and their official statements often claim that they are fighting crime in Tripoli. 

Backed by the government, RADA’s military strength and resources enabled it to extend control and influence beyond Tripoli to areas such as Tarhuna, Bani Walid, Zliten, and Al-Khoms, located east of the city [source]. Moreover, it had the authority to carry out arrest campaigns across western regions under the pretext of security enforcement.

The battalion received authorization from the current Presidential Council to execute the Public Prosecutor’s orders and conduct arrests. However, despite these powers, its involvement in numerous armed incidents in Tripoli did not alter its status as a militia. Reports from United Nations experts accuse the group of engaging in violent acts and trafficking in people [source]. Additionally, its conflicting stance on Haftar’s militias’ assault on the capital, Tripoli, arises from its ineffective involvement in protecting the city.

1.2 Activities 

The Deterrence Forces often publicise counterterrorism efforts and law enforcement actions. Recent clashes have also led to some announcements about moving facilities. Some examples include:

  • On 5 January 2024, the Deterrence Service for Combating Terrorism and Crime in Libya announced the arrest of the governor of ISIS in Libya, Hashim Abu Sidra, who carried out the massacre of Copts in Sirte, Libya, in 2016.
  • On 23 January 2024, The Deterrence Service for Combating Terrorism and Organized Crime published for the first time the confessions of a number of criminals involved in these networks who were arrested earlier in cooperation with the Anti-Illegal Immigration Service.
  • On 8 February 2024, the Deterrence Service for Combating Terrorism and Organized Crime announced that they would withdraw from Mitiga International Airport and the Tripoli seaport. .

2.0 The Stability Support Apparatus

Commander: Abdel Ghani al-Kikli
Ministry Affiliation: National unity government
Headquarters: The Al-Falah area in the capital

2.1 History and Disposition 

The SSA It is the name given to the 2012-founded Abu Salim Brigade. The original brigade was headed by Abdel-Ghani Al-Kakli, a non-military individual who took part in the revolution of February 2011. It first established its headquarters in Abu Salim, the most well-known and sizable area in the city, before extending its sphere of influence to encompass the surrounding communities.

The SSA participated in numerous armed incidents across the capital, including Bab Ben Ghashir, Sharqiya, Al-Hadba, and Tripoli, notably at the former Ministry of Interior headquarters. It aligned primarily with local government authorities, receiving continuous financial backing, procurement of equipment, and substantial payments as a result.

In mid-2021, during the National Unity Government era, the Ministry of Interior rebranded the Abu Salim Battalion as the “Stability Support Apparatus” (SSA). With this designation, the agency gained authority to establish headquarters and branches in areas west of the capital, including Sabratha and Al-Zawiya cities.

2.1 Activities 

SSA frequently claim that they fight illegal migration, smuggling, and other crimes through their official social media channels. These include: 

  • On 3 February, the Stabilization Support Service office was able to arrest about 100 illegal immigrants of different nationalities as they illegally crossed Libyan territory across the Tunisian border.
  • On 1 February, the Stabilization Support Service office was able to arrest 34 illegal immigrants of different African nationalities.
  • On 24 January, The Stabilization Support Service Office was able to arrest a number of outlaws as part of its efforts to combat drug trafficking.


Jawhar Farhat is an ALL source analyst with a Level 6 diploma (CSMP) in Security Management and a master’s degree in Military Sciences from the Military Academy of Tunisia. With eight years of military service and a specialization in the MENA region, he is currently pursuing a Master’s in Terrorism and Security at the University of Salford.


Related Articles