A Swiss terrorist originally from North Africa who serves as a senior al Qaeda operative has released a message denouncing the recent election in Tunisia.
The message, which was released on jihadist forums and has been translated by the SITE Intelligence Group, is signed by Moez al Kayrawani, the nom de guerre for Moezeddine Garsallaoui. The statement is titled “In Tunisia, the Wedding for Democracy or for the Western Crusade? So, When Will There be a Wedding for the Free People?” and is dated Oct. 26, 2011.
The release of the statement confirms that Garsallaoui is in fact alive. He was rumored to have been killed in a US Predator airstrike that killed several of his associates in May.
In the statement, Garsallaoui claimed he was “one of the first political prisoners, if not the very first,” after former president Ben Ali took control of the presidency in 1987.
“Despite my absence from the country for over 17 years, and despite the difficult circumstances, I still follow closely what has been happening in Tunisia since the start of the revolution,” Garsallaoui said.
Garsallaoui described the victory of the Ennahda Movement, which is a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, as “an expression from the people for their love of Islam and their desire to return to it.” Ennahda won 90 of the 217 available seats in parliament, which allows it to form a government and guide the shape of the country’s new constitution. The next largest political party won only 30 seats. But Garsallaoui described the Tunisian election as a Western “trick” designed to impose secularism.
“The West’s interest in this is to make Tunisia a model with which to trick the revolting peoples and take them away from the fundamental solution to all their problems, which will only be through the dominion of Islamic Sharia,” Garsallaoui said. He criticized Ennahda for “following the Western plan that aims to trick the people, and its repeated promises not to apply Islam and preserve secularism,” and said the political party’s methods have “no connection to the Islam to which we aspire.”
Instead of supporting elections, Muslims in Tunisia and elsewhere should unite and form “a new world power represented by the government of the Islamic caliphate.”
Background on Garsallaoui
Garsallaoui is a Swiss citizen of Tunisian origins who is considered to be a senior al Qaeda operative in North Waziristan, the Geneva Centre for Training and Analysis of Terrorism said. He is known to speak fluent Pashto, Arabic, German, French, and English.
After arriving in North Waziristan in late 2007, he is thought to have trained and fought with fighters loyal to Abu Laith al Libi, the revered leader of al Qaeda’s paramilitary organization, the Lashkar-al-Zil or Shadow Army. Al Libi was killed in a US Predator airstrike in North Waziristan in January 2008.
Following the completion of his training, Garsallaoui fought in Afghanistan and killed US soldiers there, he claimed in an interview published by Jih@d, a website that tracks al Qaeda and allied terror groups.
Garsallaoui’s associates in al Qaeda have included Ghazwan al Yemeni, a protege of Abu Khabab al Masri, al Qaeda’s top bomb maker and WMD chief who was killed in a US airstrike in July 2008; Abu Jameelah al Kuwaiti Hamed al Aazimi, who served with slain al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al Zarqawi; Abu Zahra al Maghrebi; and Akramah al Bunjabi al Pakistani. The four al Qaeda operatives were killed along with two Haqqani Network fighters in a US Predator airstrike in the Miramshah bazaar in North Waziristan. Garsallaoui had left the group just prior to the airstrike [see LWJ report, Key al Qaeda operative killed in US strike in North Waziristan].
Garsallaoui was also connected to Eric Breininger, a convicted German terrorist wanted for his involvement in the failed plot to attack US military facilities in Germany in 2008. Breininger was killed in North Waziristan, Pakistan while fighting alongside the Islamic Jihad Union, an offshoot of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.
In addition to having direct links with al Qaeda operatives in Pakistan, Garsallaoui is the third husband of Malika El Aroud, the Internet jihadist and propagandist with strong ties to al Qaeda. Her first husband, Dahmane Abd al Sattar, was one of the two men who assassinated Ahmed Shah Massoud, the leader of the Northern Alliance, just two days prior to the Sept. 11, 2001 attack on the US. Several years later, Garsallaoui and his wife recruited “four Belgians and two French citizens, all of North African descent,” and sent them to Pakistan to wage jihad, according to CNN.
Most recently, Garsallaoui and is thought to be involved in the kidnapping of a Swiss couple in Baluchistan province, Pakistan. The Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan claimed to have kidnapped the couple, and has released two propaganda tapes of the Swiss citizens. The Taliban have demanded that the US release Aafia Siddiqui, the “Lady al Qaeda” who is serving an 86-year-long sentence for attempting to kill US law enforcement officials in Afghanistan.