June 19, 2014
The Tunisian post office announced that it would be implementing systems allowing it to identify and stop money laundering and funding of terrorism, making it one of the first countries in Africa or the Arab world to do so.
The official spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry could not confirm the release of two Tunisians kidnapped in Libya, Mohammed Bil-Sheikh and Arousi al-Quntasi. He could only confirm that the two were in good health and efforts to free them are continuing.
As part of a large spread on the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS), al-Maghreb did an inset on “Tunisians and ISIS.” The article said that most Tunisian salafis and jihadists were in Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the most prominent of them being Saifallah Benhussein Abu Ayyadh. The jurisprudential system of Tunisian jihadis is run by Hani Siba’i, Al-Qaeda’s number 2 in North Africa. The ideological disagreements between Al-Qaeda and ISIS—with each thinking the other is deviating from the true path—has led ISIS to have a relatively small impact in the Maghreb.
Jabhat al-Nusra, the Al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, has been cognizant in recent months of its relative lack of recruitment of foreign fighters. This includes Tunisians, who have been pushing to join other groups that swear homage to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (the head of ISIS). The number of Tunisians being sent to ISIS controlled groups indicates a level of ISIS influence over Tunisian recruitment networks.
Most important for Tunisians at the moment is the letter sent by Abu Ayadh (leader of Ansar ash-Sharia) that congratulated ISIS on its achievements in recent days and called for ISIS and al-Qaeda to transcend the conflict between them. The letter indicates that Ansar Ash-Sharia still owes primary allegiance to Al-Qaeda and Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.
The inset ended by noting the possibility that there could be a backlash against ISIS’s most recent forays that could harm its regional credibility.
Hafith Ben Saleh, the Justice Minister, met with Hussein Al-Saidi, the General Secretary of the Union of Prisons, to discuss reforms in the prison systems and ways to improve the general training and capabilities of prison guards.
Media outlets are reporting on the conflict between supporters of retired General Khalifa Haftar and what he refers to as “terrorists,” meaning Ansar ash-Sharia and those who support them. Many of these are brigades led by Islamist warlords, some of which belonged to Libyan militias.
Although Ansar ash-Sharia has returned to the fore in the media, questions about its organization, founding, inclinations, and relationship to similar groups in the Maghreb remain unanswered, despite media reports coming in day after day.
Ansar ash-Sharia and General Haftar’s forces are locked in a media struggle, with each making appearances in media outlets. General Haftar seeks to drum up support for his “Dignity” campaign against terrorism, while Ansar ash-Sharia seeks to present itself to the Libyan people as rejecting killing and bloodshed.
Ansar ash-Sharia emerged during the Libyan Revolution of February 2011, and it was made up of former revolutionaries that had belonged to the Abu Abeeda bin al-Jarrah Brigade, the Malik Brigade, and the 17 February Brigade. The organization was officially announced in June 2012. Not much is known about its numbers, especially given the continuing polarization between groups. Benghazi is considered their primary headquarters, and they are centered in the Qouwarcha area of the city.
Ansar ash-Sharia is suspected of having a role in the attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi, although the organization has denied any involvement. The organization rejects the new Libyan state and its instruments, as well as elections and democracy. There has been a slight change in their platform recently as Mohammad Zahawi, the leader of the group, said that they would lay down their weapons if the Islamic Sharia was enshrined in the constitution.
Part of the group’s support comes from its charitable activities in various cities in Libya. Donations come from all over, including outside the country. Despite the fact that Zahawi denies any connection to Ansar ash-Sharia in Tunisia or any other outside force, the Tunisian and Libyan interior ministries report a solid connection between the two. The Tunisian interior ministry has reported several times that the Libyan Ansar ash-Sharia is smuggling weapons to the Tunisian branch.
Mehdi Jomaa, the acting prime minister, said during his official visit to Germany that he would be asking the German government for assistance in securing Tunisia’s borders.
June 20, 2014
Police stopped a young Salafi man in Kasserine yesterday who was passing out leaflets encouraging jihad. He confessed to there being 3 other young men in his network, who were also brought in to the police station.
Members of civil society and political parties criticized Lofti Ben Jeddou for his visit to the Private Prosecutor’s office in Sulayman, saying that in the wake of the office’s partisanship, the visit seemed to be a provocation.
Only 5 representatives attended the discussion of the Terrorism and Money Laundering bill in the Constituent Assembly, leading to a fairly quick and perfunctory discussion.
A prison employee was arrested days ago under suspicion of belonging to a terrorist group connected with Ansar ash-Sharia. He and other accused were denied bail today.
Police in Kasserine yesterday evening stopped a young Salafi man who was distributing jihadist literature. They found that there were four other participants in this operation, and arrested them as well.
In a joint press conference with Angela Merkel, Prime Minister Mehdi Joumaa announced that Germany would be providing financial support to Tunisia, including logistical and methodological support in the field of security.
Nidal al-Warfali, the Prime Minister’s deputy charged with coordination and economic affairs, presided over a working group meeting on the Tunisian system of fighting money laundering and the funding of terrorism.
Families of “al-Haraqa,” the name given to 48 Tunisians and Algerians who disappeared in 2008, are protesting the lack of response and broken promises by the government that said it would try to find out what happened.
A significant number of security officers from all branches of the security services protested outside the interior ministry for their right to unionize and for legislation solving several issues they have in their work.
At-Tunisia held an interview with Sheikh Farid Al-Baji, the Director of Ideological Security at the Tunisian Center for Global Security Studies, who said that ISIS is “at the gates” of Tunis and plans to enter. He said the organization is supported with money and weapons by intelligence agencies in order to destroy the region and let chaos reign, until the Islamic nation forgets its founding principles. Therefore those who call for jihad in the name of Islam are actually the sons of NATO and a fifth column for global Zionism.
He continued to say that ISIS’s goal in Tunis is the same as its goal in Iraq and Libya: the bloody overthrow of government. He explained that their way is to kill, and nothing else. In response to a question on how to prevent ISIS from fulfilling these goals, he said that the Tunisian Center for Global Security Studies had come up with a security plan that it had presented to the Prime Minister. Political bickering and shortsightedness have been the main obstacles to a real counter-terrorism strategy up until now, he said.
ISIS leadership is already in the country, Al-Baji continued, and they are allied with Ansar ash-Sharia. The two act as one organization now. In fact, the ISIS cells are not coming in from Syria but have been in the country for years. The weapons are also present, and the cells are only waiting for the right moment to put their forces on the streets. The lack of a clear security strategy has put Tunisia in this dangerous place. All problems, including economic issues, are secondary to countering this threat, Al-Baji said.
He went on to say that all four types of Salafism (Jihadi, Scientific, Political, and Madkhalist) have the same goals, but different methods.
June 23, 2014
Police captured six Tunisians and a Turkish man suspected of terrorist activities.
A Tunisian citizen, Zahid Bouhussein, was killed in a raid by regime forces on the outskirts of Damascus. Bouhussein was apparently fighting for unidentified opposition forces.
According to the Iranian Fars News Agency, Qatar recruited 1,800 North African volunteers to fight in Syria through its embassy in Tripoli.
After the recent protests by members of the National Security Forces Union, union members are working on a “road map” to determine how unions and the interior ministry will conduct business in the future.
After a wide-ranging police operation in Bizerte, 46 were arrested on suspicion of various crimes, including 9 religious extremists.
June 24, 2014
A court in the United Arab Emirates sentenced 3 Tunisians to prison for seven years for membership in an Al-Qaeda cell.
According to the Libyan site “Al-Wasat” Libya and Tunisia have come to an agreement to send over wanted Libyans on Tunisian soil. Ten individuals from the old regime are included. The Libyans have agreed, in exchange, to changes to the previous security arrangements, especially having to do with border crossing, residency, and work. The two countries look forward to ensuring the success of their twin revolutions. The possibility of joint training of security forces was also discussed.
Representatives in the Constituent assembly questioned the respective ministers of the Interior, Defense, and Justice Ministries yesterday, focusing on the threat of terrorism, the resurgence of violence during the course of arrests, and increasing partisanship in security forces unions and within the security institutions themselves.
Lotfi Ben Jedou, the Interior Minister, said that there were continuous efforts to improve coordination in the security forces. Regarding the exchange of fire with terrorists yesterday in Kasserine he said that the operation was successful as the security forces were able to interrupt and prevent the supplying of terrorists holed up in the mountains.
Walid al-Benani, the vice president of Ennahda, asked about the Interior Ministry’s strategy for fighting terrorism, and how it was managing logistical issues in the run-up to elections. He also asked for more details on the terrorist operation against Ben Jedou’s hourse in Kasserine, as well as clashes with terrorists last Sunday.
Other deputies, like independent Monia Benasr Ayadi, asked about what had been implemented regarding “parallel security.” Meanwhile Habib Harkam of Ettakatol asked about the issue of fireworks and the effects of the Libyan situation on Tunisia. Noura Benhussein, a representative of the Congress for the Republic party, demanded that the minister of justice explain the developments in the enforcement of transitional justice. She also asked about the filling of vacancies in the Truth and Dignity Commission given the resignation of Khamis Shamari.
Abderraouf Ayadi, the president of the Wafa Movement, pointed to a number of cases where human rights are suspected to have been violated in the course of arrests. Other deputies asked about parallel security, the operations on Mt. Chaanbi, and the need to confront smuggling.
The defense minister, Ghazi Jaribi, said to al-Maghreb that Tunis’s borders are secure and that the military establishment is working with the interior ministry to implement a complete security plan. He said that the main worry is the funding of terrorism in the country.
Security forces and a terrorist group exchanged fire in the southeast suburbs of Kasserine yesterday night. According to the interior ministry, the fight did not lead to the capture of any terrorist, although citizens who had talked to the officers on the scene say they were told of the arrest of two terrorists.
On June 26, it is expected that the Yehi Benamr Cultural Center in Sousse will host a Tunisian recognition of the International Day against Torture. It will be called “Toward a Tunisia without Torture.”
Libyan leaders have asked Tunisia to send over 20 former security leaders to stand trial for their crimes.
Security forces engaged in a firefight with terrorists near Kasserine yesterday. The terrorists were in two groups, the first composed was of four individuals and the size of the second is unknown. After exchanging fire with security forces, the terrorists escaped towards Mount Selloum.
Many Turks are leaving Libya for Tunisia and Turkey after the Dignity Operation gave Turks and Qataris 48 hours to leave the country.
Five Tunisians were sentenced to jail-time in the UAE after they were caught trying to join Al-Qaeda. The sentences ranged from 7 years to life.
The trial of 4 religious extremists was delayed after one of them was not brought to court. The men are accused of attacking Major Wasam Sulayman of the National Guard.
Authorities arrested a man in Kef suspected of funding the “Warghi” terror cell.
17 people are up for trial in the case of the looting and burning of the American embassy.