The current chaos in Libya is undoubtedly connected to the NATO military intervention in 2011 which toppled dictator Muammar Qaddafi. After Qaddafi was deposed in a rebel advance backed by NATO aircraft, the NATO forces largely left local Libyan forces on their own politically. As a result of poor political climates, inability, corruption, and incompetence in regards to how to effectively run a country, Libya was left with ill-prepared lawmakers, warring militias, and a fledgling military.
This fledgling military is barely up to the task of battling factional militias vying for power in the main cities of Tripoli, Derna, and Benghazi. To make matters worse in terms of violence in the latter city, a general by the name of Khalifa Hiftar has recently started a campaign to "rid Libya of Islamist militias". This recent campaign has left Benghazi in even more chaos and more violence with dozens of people dying each day. By most estimates, the fighting between HIftar's forces and rebels, mainly Ansar al-Sharia, has reached a stalemate.
Terrorist Activity in Southern Libya:
The northern cities of Benghazi, Tripoli and Derna are not the only Libyan cities in disarray right now. The southern parts of Libya are wrapped up in factional fighting, with warring militias controlling large amounts of ground. Unfortunately, more and more ground is being obtained and controlled by Islamist and jihadist forces in the south. Having said that, the south is now a "viper's nest" according to the French.
From a 2012 report by the Library of Congress, "Al-Qaeda affiliates such as AQIM are also benefiting from the situation in Libya. AQIM will likely join hands with the al-Qaeda clandestine network in Libya to secure a supply of arms for its areas of operations in northern Mali and Algeria". Along with Ansar al-Sharia, AQIM, and other al-Qaeda affiliated groups, Mokhtar Belmokhtar is also thought to be operating in southern Libya. I recently wrote about Mokhtar Belmokhtar, where I explored the threat his activities carry to Western and United States' interests.
The instability in Libya and the lawlessness in the south provides an ample opportunity for the various terrorist groups operating there to capitalize on using this reality to train, govern, and to ship weapons and fighters to various locales; it could even provide a base of operations for terrorist attacks in the region. As mentioned in my aforementioned post on Mokhtar Belmokhtar, he is allegedly recruiting recent returnees from Syria to conduct terrorist attacks in the region. The exact opposite--sending fighters to Syria--could also be true.
The lawlessness in southern Libya and close proximity to Algeria in the west could provide a great opportunity to support operations there and even in Mali via Algeria. Using southwestern Libya as a base, they could support AQIM operations in Algeria and therefore AQIM/allied operations in both Tunisia and Mali. They, being the al-Qaeda clandestine network operating in Libya, could ship both weapons and fighters to Algeria, as well as operate training camps for these same fighters (assuming this is not already happening). These same training camps could very well be use for sending fighters to Syria, like mentioned above.
Knowing the relationship between AQIM, Ansar al-Sharia, and the Muhammad Jamal Network, training fighters destined for the Sinai could also be a possibility--in fact, it is more probable being that the UN noted MJN has established training camps in Libya. What is interesting to me, is what is the relationship between various Libyan groups and al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)? AQAP, noted by the UN above, is known to fund MJN and work with them in the Sinai. AQAP trainers could definitely ramp up bomb expertise for their Libyan recruits. Not only that, but AQAP could gain Libyan recruits for their own operations.
Looking internally, these bases and training camps could be used to further the violence inside Libya. Gaining new or better fighters, gaining guerrilla warfare expertise from trained AQIM fighters, as well as bombing expertise from AQIM, this could begin to help alleviate the stalemate in northern Libya.
No matter how you look at it, the chaos in Libya does not bode well for stability in the region. Moreover, it provides ample opportunities for al-Qaeda militants and groups to expand their operations across North Africa and the Sahel. Without help from the international community in securing their country, the future for the Libyan government and people does not look well.