The Origins and Evolution of ISIS in Libya

June 20, 2017 - 12:30 pm

Atlantic Council, 1030 15th ST NW, 12th Floor
Washington, DC


The Origins and Evolution of ISIS in Libya

A conversation with:
Mr. Jason Pack
Founder & Emeritus Director
Eye on ISIS in Libya
Executive Director
US Libya Business Association

Ms. Rhiannon Smith
Managing Director

Eye on ISIS in Libya

Dr. Christopher Chivvis
Associate Director, International Security and Defense Policy Center; Senior Political Scientist
RAND Corporation

Moderated by:

Dr. Karim Mezran
Senior Fellow, Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East
Atlantic Council

Introduced by:

Ms. Mirette F. Mabrouk
Deputy Director and Director for Research & Programs, Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East
Atlantic Council

Despite the ejection of the Islamic State from the Libyan city of Sirte in 2016, the terror group remains a threat in Libya, along with other extremist groups in the country. Libya’s fragmented political arena and increasing escalation among rivals on the ground further contribute to growing instability in the country. Examining the origins of the Islamic State and other jihadist actors in Libya presents insights into the formation of these groups, how they interfere in post-conflict state building, the threats they pose, and the complexities that arise after they no longer hold territory but continue to perpetrate attacks. Libya holds an important position in the global jihadist network. Indeed, the British-Libyan perpetrator of the May 2017 attack in Manchester emerged out of that network, as did the June 3 London Bridge attacker.

The Rafik Hariri Center will convene a discussion on its new report, The Origins and Evolution of ISIS in Libya. The unique, comprehensive, and groundbreaking report examines the jihadist dynamics in Libya and offers recommendations to address this threat. The discussion will feature the report’s co-authors Jason Pack, Rhiannon Smith, and Karim Mezran, and the RAND Corporation's Christopher Chivvis.

On Twitter? Follow @AtlanticCouncil and use #ACLibya

Atlantic Council
1030 15th Street NW, 12th Floor (West Tower Elevator) 
Washington, DC 

This event is open to press and on the record. 


Mr. Jason Pack is the Founder and Emeritus Director of Eye on ISIS in Libya. He currently serves as Executive Director of the US-Libya Business Association (USLBA). He is also the founder of the consultancy Libya-Analysis. In this capacity, he is the North Africa Analyst at Risk Intelligence, a Danish company specializing in maritime risk and long-range assessment. Over the last eight years, Jason has worked to promote US-Libyan commercial, academic, and governmental ties. After helping Western businesses operate in Tripoli in 2008, he served as USLBA Program Manager from 2009-10. He then completed a master’s degree in global and imperial history at St. Antony’s College, Oxford in 2011. Since then, he has been affiliated with the University of Cambridge, where he was a PhD student and researcher of Middle Eastern history. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Spectator, Newsweek, The Financial Times, The Guardian, Foreign Policy, and Foreign Affairs. He is also a frequent commentator on the BBC, France 24, CNN, VOA, and Al Jazeera.

Ms. Rhiannon Smith is Managing Director at Eye On ISIS in Libya and Managing Director of Libya-Analysis, a consultancy organization specializing in producing bespoke reports on Libya for Western companies and governments. Previously, Rhiannon was the Program Manager for the Middle East at the University of Cambridge Judge Business School (CJBS). As part of this role she managed the Middle East Research Centre at CJBS, focusing on the particular leadership and management challenges facing Middle Eastern organizations. She lived in Tripoli, Libya from September 2010 to February 2011, then October 2011 through to January 2014, working for a number of organizations including Libyan research consultancy Know Libya and international NGO No Peace Without Justice. She has written opinion and commentary articles on Libya for numerous media outlets including Al-Jazeera, Open Democracy, the New Statesman, and Middle East Eye, among others. Rhiannon holds an MSc in Development Management from the Open University and a BA Hons in Arabic, with French and Persian from the University of Exeter. She speaks, writes and reads Arabic and French.

Dr. Chrisopher Chivvis is associate director of the International Security and Defense Policy Center and a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation. He specializes in national security issues in Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East, including NATO, military interventions, counter-terrorism, and deterrence. He is also an adjunct professor at the Johns Hopkins, Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). The author of three scholarly books and several monographs and articles on U.S. foreign and security policy, Chivvis has worked on Eurasian security and NATO-Russia issues in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy. He has also held research positions at the French Institute for International Relations (Ifri) in Paris and at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) in Berlin, and taught graduate courses at Johns Hopkins University, New York University, and Sciences Po in Paris. Chivvis received his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins, SAIS.

Dr. Karim Mezran is a senior fellow with the Council's Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East. Mezran joined the Hariri Center as a senior fellow focusing on the processes of change in North Africa. As a distinguished Libyan-Italian scholar, Mezran brings enormous depth of understanding to the transition in Libya and elsewhere in the region. In addition, Mezran is an adjunct professor of Middle East studies at the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). Mezran was previously the director of the Center for American Studies in Rome. His analyses on the Middle East and North Africa have been widely published in Italian- and other-language journals and publications. Mezran holds a PhD in international relations from SAIS; a JD in comparative law from the University of Rome (La Sapienza); an LLM in comparative law from the George Washington University; an MA in Arab studies from Georgetown University; and a BA in management from Hiram College.