[30] Therefore, AQIM advised Tunisians to shield themselves from these provocations by joining “your sincere preachers of Ansar al-Shari`a, who stood next to you.”[31] Yet while these statements were hostile toward Ennahda, Mauritanian AQIM member Abu Yahya al-Shinqiti also counseled AST to be cautious of the Tunisian government’s “provocations,” and to demonstrate “patience and wisdom” rather than being dragged into “random actions.”[32]. Okba Ibn Nafaa Brigade, also known as Uqba Ben Nafi Cell is an active group. [47] According to El Watan, Algerian forces have even conducted limited counterterrorism operations in Tunisian territory.[48]. Police shot and wounded Issaoui shortly after and took him into custody. In addition, AST leader Seifallah Ben Hassine advocated for the creation of an Islamic workers collective to challenge the secular Tunisian General Labor Union. [3] Regional security officials, therefore, perceive the incidents on Tunisia’s border with Algeria beginning in late April 2013 as highlighting AQIM’s increased focus on Tunisia. In the city of Sidi Bouzid, where Tunisian street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi self-immolated in 2010, two local Ennahda offices were burned. [51], Thus, while it is not clear that this is the result of coordination between the two groups, AQIM has served as a safety valve for AST. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have characterized Tunisia’s travel restrictions as arbitrary and have urged Tunisia to make legislative reforms. [47]  Amira Masrour, “Government Says Chaambi Attacks Planted by Actors Outside the Mountain,” Tunisia Live, June 7, 2013; “Tunisie – l’armée algérienne soupçonne les terroristes de se déplacer sous la couverture de contrebandiers,” Business News, June 10, 2013. Get the latest news on extremism and counter-extremism delivered to your inbox. The government has since continued to renew the state of emergency. Early Tunisian global jihadist activity, such as the arrangement for two Belgian-Tunisians to kill Afghan mujahidin commander Ahmad Shah Massoud in 2001, involved direct links to al-Qa`ida’s core organization rather than to GSPC/AQIM. Copyright © 2020 TRAC - All rights reserved. See, for example, Alison Pargeter, “The Suleiman Affair: Radicalism and Jihad in Tunisia,” Jane’s Intelligence Review 23:1 (2011). Extra troops have been posted at tourist sites since the beach killings. Beat Stauffer paid a visit to the province and city of Kasserine, which are viewed by many as a hub of jihadism in Tunisia . La katiba Okba Ibn Nafaa constitue tout de même une menace importante. Die Brigade Okba Ibn Nafaa hat ihre Stützpunkte nach Angaben der Sicherheitskräfte vor allem in den abgelegenen Bergen von Chaambi an der Grenze zu Algerien. ISIS later claimed responsibility for the attack. Still, according to a 2017 U.S. Department of State report: “Tunisia needs more time and international support to complete the overhaul of its military and civilian security forces.” (Source: U.S. Department of State), The Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) held a two-day workshop in Tunis in November 2015 to assist Tunisia combat extremism domestically. All such rights are reserved. (Sources: U.S. Department of State, Al-Monitor, Al-Fanar Media), In 2016, the Tunisian Directorate General of Prisons and Rehabilitation worked with the U.S. Department of State, in part, to establish community reintegration centers to better prepare newly released prison inmates and mitigate recidivism and radicalization. That year, the Tunisian government reportedly dismantled more than 160 jihadist cells and arrested over 850 suspected terrorists. Protesters clashed with police at the headquarters of the Interior Ministry. [21] The rhetorical and later street confrontation between Tunisian security services and AST gave AQIM the opportunity to attempt to insert itself as an arbiter among different Islamist movements. Tunisia’s porous border with Libya has allowed for the free flow of weapons and fighters between the two countries. Interestingly, the Uqba ibn Nafi mosque in Qayrawan, a city renowned for its longstanding tradition of Islamic scholarship, has become a bastion of Salafist preaching since 2011. It is known that Okba Ibn Nafaa Brigade is using the same tactics in Jebel Chaambi…. In April 2002, a natural gas tanker laden with explosives was detonated on the Tunisian island of Djerba inside El Ghriba synagogue. The attack was allegedly set to occur just days before the country’s parliamentary elections. The Tunisian government reportedly pinned the blame on Okba Ibn Nafaa. Understanding AQIM’s policies toward Tunisia requires an awareness of the group’s perceptions of the changes brought by the Arab uprisings, and how these changes in turn influence its strategy toward the region. Asharq Al-Awsat reported in August 2018 that Tunisian authorities had arrested four Tunisians involved in “an international network that smuggles terrorists from Iraq and Turkey towards Europe using forged foreign passports.”   That month, Tunisian authorities reportedly arrested nine Europe-bound terror suspects as they were attempting to leave the country on boat. All rights reserved. TRAC fully supports academic institutions and provides subscriptions on a reduced rate based on FTE. At the time, no group claimed responsibility for the attacks, but suspects arrested after the incident were reportedly AST members. TRAC is a unique, comprehensive resource for the study of political violence of all kinds. [40], In December 2012, the situation escalated with the emergence of what Tunisian officials termed AQIM’s attempt to set up a branch in Tunisia, the Uqba ibn Nafi Brigade. AST has not publicly held an annual conference since. Police sources claimed Issaoui had traveled by boat from Tunisia to the Italian island of Lampedusa in September and arrived in France sometime in early October. The Future of Kata’ib Hezbollah and Iran’s Other Proxies in Iraq, Desert Drift, Declining Deadliness: Understanding the Evolution of AQIM’s Suicide Bombings, The Terrorist Lists: An Examination of the U.S. Government’s Counterterrorism Designations Efforts, The Crisis Within Jihadism: The Islamic State’s Puritanism vs. al-Qa`ida’s Populism, The Islamic State’s Strategic Trajectory in Africa: Key Takeaways from its Attack Claims, The End of the Sahelian Anomaly: How the Global Conflict between the Islamic State and al-Qa`ida Finally Came to West Africa, Rising in the East: A Regional Overview of the Islamic State’s Operations in Southeast Asia. At the same time, AQIM’s rhetoric toward the Tunisian state has become sharper, opening the possibility of an increase in AQIM-related violence in Tunisia. No group has claimed responsibility, but the country has struggled since the Arab Spring to prevent nationals from joining ISIS and al-Qaeda. Okba Ibn Nafaa terrorist group claims deadly attack on Tunisia border guards Friday 21/08/2015 Young democracy stumbles under terror threat TUNIS - A Tunisian border guard was killed in a shootout with jihadists on the border with Algeria, officials said Monday, in an attack claimed by the North African country's main extremist group. Some protesters were chanting, “Tunisia is free, terrorism out.” French president Francois Hollande and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, along with leaders from Poland, Belgium, Palestine, Algeria, and Libya joined protesters in Tunis 11 days after the attack on March 29. The International Republican Institute’s Center of Insights in Survey Research has opined that Tunisia should prioritize the country’s youth given that demographic’s vulnerability to violent extremism. Sidi Bouzid gilt als Wiege des Aufstandes in der Arabischen Welt, des sogenannten Arabischen Frühlings. [43]  Ibid. In October 2011, AST organized a “Day of Rage” after a Tunisian TV station aired Persepolis, a film that depicts God in human form. The investigation was prompted after a video on social media, that allegedly featured Tunisian national Ibrahim Issaoui, claimed that Al Mahdi was responsible for the attack. They couldn’t have a normal life….and there’s a lot of lobbying out of this extremism that are looking after those people, and offering them money and activity.” The Salafi jihadist group Ansar al-Sharia in Tunisia (AST) claims to have recruited as many as 70,000 Tunisians since its formation in February 2011, according to a January 2014 Economist report. Get critical security information from around the world. For the first time, AQIM explicitly criticized the Islamist Ennahda party for its perceived wavering on the issue of Shari`a, and for selling democracy as legitimate under Islam. Yet with the Arab uprisings and the fall of Ben Ali, AQIM’s reported presence in Tunisia became more visible. ; Roger, “Tunisie: sur la trace des djihadistes du mont Chaambi.” Other reports indicated the presence of purported training camps in Tunisia as early as last fall. This is not to say that Tunisian jihadists were not involved with their Algerian counterparts during this period. You can try TRAC for 7 days with this trial. (Sources: Reuters, Aspen Institute), Nearly 85 percent of Tunisians polled in December 2016 said that Tunisia’s current economic situation was “somewhat bad” or “very bad,” and 66 percent said the government should treat employment as its top priority for Tunisian youth. This article analyzes how AQIM, viewing events in Tunisia through its strategic lens, has responded to that country’s revolution. Die Gruppe habe "terroristische Operationen" während des islamischen Fastenmonats Ramadan geplant, der in diesem Jahr Ende Mai beginnt. In der Kleinstadt hatte sich der Gemüsehändler Mohammed Bouazizi Ende 2010 aus Verzweiflung über Behördenwillkür selbst verbrannt. [13] Thomas Joscelyn, “Tunisian ‘Martyrs’ Celebrated by Ansar al Sharia,” The Long War Journal, March 13, 2013; Ahmed Maher, “Tunisia’s Radical Divide over Salafi Agenda,” BBC, June 6, 2013; Thomas A. Bass, “How Tunisia is Turning Into a Salafist Battleground,” The Atlantic, June 20, 2013. TRAC is a subscription-based service. The bulk of the jihadist activities in which the group might be involved have been focused abroad, such as promoting the flow of foreign fighters to Syria, although the group has also been accused of orchestrating attacks on perceived cultural opponents within Tunisia. It is unclear whether or to what extent KUIN is distinct from the Okba Ibn Nafaa Brigade. For information on Tunisians training in GSPC/AQIM camps, see Anneli Botha, “Terrorism in the Maghreb: The Transnationalisation of Domestic Terrorism,” Institute for Security Studies, July 2008. Terrorist attacks within the country are often followed by massive counter protests of people marching against violence and in solidarity with the victims. The government has yet to enforce the policy. YOU MUST HAVE A SUBSCRIPTION TO ACCESS THE REST OF THIS CONTENT. [21] Camille Tawil, “Ennahda Reconsiders Ties With Tunisian Salafist Groups,” al-Hayat, May 29, 2013. [35]  Frida Dahmani, “Tunisie: échanges de tir meurtriers entre militaires et membres présumés d’Aqmi,” Jeune Afrique, May 18, 2011. [42] Laarayedh added that the Uqba ibn Nafi Brigade was composed largely of recruits from the region of Kasserine, which abuts Algeria, and that the group’s goal was to provide initial training before sending fighters along to “real” AQIM camps in Algeria or Libya. At 12:30 p.m. on March 18, 2015, militants opened fire on tourists unloading from buses in front of the Bardo National Museum. Die Sicherheitskräfte stürmten ein Haus, das zuvor wochenlang beobachtet worden war. [49] This could bolster suggestions that the group is using Tunisia largely for recruitment and training, while focusing on combat operations elsewhere, such as in Algeria or Mali. That same month, Tunisian Interior Minister Lofti Ben Jeddou reported that Tunisian security forces had prevented an additional 8,000 Tunisians from traveling to Syria to fight. [26], In a March 2013 statement, AQIM further emphasized the importance of da`wa by exhorting Tunisians to stay in their own country rather than joining the jihad abroad. [34] Still, this cooperation appears limited. The ensuing clashes drew 40,000 rioters, and security forces shot and killed one bystander in Tunis. The spectrum of violence represented by these groups is vast, from Jihadists who bomb train stations to financial institutions that transfer funds. [33] The GSPC and later AQIM were regarded as largely focused on Algeria. IS has claimed both attacks. [18] AQIM advised Tunisians “to take advantage of this historical opportunity to spread the manhaj (methodology) of tawhid (monotheism) and jihad.”[19] At the same time, Tunisians must “prepare and be ready as the days are pregnant and the Crusade war against Islam and Muslims remains utmost intense.”[20] This statement is consistent with the theoretical work produced by Salafi-jihadi thinkers counseling an initial stage of preaching that would culminate in violence when the movement is ready (or when its hand is forced).

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