Ibrahim Tantoush

Alias/es: Abd al-Muhsin Al-Libi; Ibrahim Ali Abu Bakr; Abdalmushi; Abdel Ilah Sabri; Abu Anas; Abd al-Muhsin; Abdul Rahman; ‘Abd al-Muhsi; Abd al-Rahman

Status: Active

Organisation/s: Libya Shield Force

Nationality/ies: Libyan

Travel History: Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Malaysia, Indonesia

Skills/Education/Occupation: Engineer

Ibrahim Tantoush was arrested in Indonesia in 2003 after being found in possession of a fraudulent South African passport. Shortly after his extradition to South Africa, Tantoush challenged the Libyan government’s extradition request on charges related to gold theft towards funding Al-Qaeda’s operations. Three years prior, a grand jury in the Southern District of New York in the United States indicted Tantoush for his alleged involvement in the bombing of US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaaam. Tantoush however testified to the Pretoria magistrate’s court in 2004 that between 1983 to 1987 he participated in protests against the dictatorial government of Muammar Gaddafi as an engineering student before fleeing and living in exile in Saudi Arabia. Tantoush further testified to having gone to Pakistan to work for an non-governmental organisation (NGO), “helping orphans and refugees, particularly from Afghanistan”. However, in a notice published in 2018 outlining reasons for designating individuals and groups under the Al-Qaeda sanctions list, the United Nations (UN) linked Tantoush to the Afghan Support Committee (ASC), an organisation linked to funding al-Qaeda. According to the UN, Tantoush worked as a manager of the ASC Peshwar office where he “provided Usama bin Laden and his associates with facilities in Peshawar, and carried money and messages on their behalf. The Pakistan office has diverted funds ostensibly earmarked for supporting orphans to Al-Qaida terrorists.”

Fleeing the post 9/11 crackdown on suspected terrorists in Pakistan, Tantoush testified to going to Malaysia in 2002 where he acquired a fraudulent South African passport with the hope of immigrating to Australia. Tantoush feared that his Libyan passport wouldn’t find him favor with Australian authorities upon arrival. In 2003 Tantoush traveled to Indonesia where he was arrested in a marketplace initially on suspicion of being an illegal immigrant and was soon deported to South Africa.

In the course of challenging his extradition, Tantoush applied for refugee status in South Africa which was denied by the Refugee Appeal Board in 2005. However in 2007, the case of Tantoush vs Refugee Appeal Board and Others, the ruling declared the decision of the (RAB) to deny his refugee and asylum status as “inconsistent with the (South African) Constitution of 1996” (also see (Khalfan Khamis) Mohamed vs President of the Republic of South Africa, 2001), thus declaring him a refugee entitled to asylum in South Africa.

Tantoush is believed to be in Libya leading the Libyan Shield Force (LSF), an armed group reported to have links with Al-Qaeda, which was established in 2012 from an amalgamation of retired anti-Gaddafi armed groups across the country. In 2014, LSF took over a U.S military base, camp 27, in Libya and was widely reported to be under the command of Tantoush.

Featured Image Source: Ibrahim Tantoush