The spread of militancy across Libya was predicted by the country’s deceased leader Muammar Gaddafi, who warned the Mediterranean would become ‘a sea of chaos’. ISIS had not yet made frightening inroads into Libya when he made this chilling prophecy during his last interview in March 2011. But the Arab Spring uprising that year sparked a civil war in Libya and opposition forces – backed by NATO – deposed Gaddafi in violent coup just five months after his ominous prediction. In October 2011, forces loyal to the country’s transitional government found the ousted leader hiding in a culvert in Sirte and killed him. Four years later, Islamic State kidnapped 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians in Sirte – Gaddafi’s birthplace – before releasing gruesome footage of their beheading on the shores of the Mediterranean, just 220 miles south of Italy. In it the terrorists warned that they ‘will conquer Rome’.

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