Results tagged “Tunisia”
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Gen. Rachid Ammar, the head of the Tunisian military, abruptly resigned on June 24, citing age as the reason. He warned, however, that Tunisia was in danger of becoming another Somalia, and complained about a lack of intelligence resources during a recent operation to confront extremists in the Jebel Chaambi area. Democratic Movement Party chairman Mohamed Abbou had charged that Ammar should be sacked for failing to protect the country and taking too long to round up al Qaeda-linked terrorists in the area.
The National Union of Tunisian Security Forces Syndicates has submitted a bill that raises penalties for attacks on security forces. The head of the union said that since the revolution, there have been 3,472 violent attacks on policemen, half of which were attempted murders, and that security forces receive threats on a daily basis.
Several political groups, including Nidaa Tunes and the Popular Front, signed an accord at a Tunis conference to combat terrorism and promote human rights. The ruling Islamist Ennahda party and the Congress for the Republic (CPR) refused to participate. Adel Elmi, head of the Tunisian Moderate Association for Awareness and Reform (formerly known as the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice), was expelled from the conference for his links to the assassination of liberal political leader Chokri Belaid.
Imams from mosques in Tunis and Ben Arous protested outside the Ministry of Religious Affairs on June 17 against the rising influence of Salafist extremism. The head of the Union of Imams complained that although more than 1,000 imams have suffered violence from Salafists, the government has not investigated or prosecuted any of the cases. The National Constituent Assembly, which is drafting a new constitution for Tunisia, will consider a motion to impeach President Marzouki filed this spring after he vowed to hang any "secular extremists" who wanted to overthrow the government.
Democratic Movement Party chairman Mohamed Abbou charged that Army Chief of Staff General Rachid Ammar should be sacked for failing to protect the country and taking too long to round up al Qaeda-linked terrorists in the Jebel Chaambi area. Abbou has criticized Ansar al Sharia Tunisia in the past. A member of the Nidaa Tounes party countered that the government is responsible for poor security policies and condoning Salafist violence.
Human rights and civic associations estimate that some 3,000 Tunisians have gone to Syria to fight with the Free Syrian Army or the Al Nusrah Front; the Interior Ministry says the number is over 500. Islamist rebels in the Jebel Chaambi area, including members of Ansar al Sharia and the Uqba Ibn Nafaa Battalion, are active in terrorist recruitment and training for jihad in Syria and elsewhere.
Three Salafists were arrested in Nabeul yesterday for attacking an imam at the Al Fateh mosque. He was attacked while giving a lesson on prayer.
Two Tunisian soldiers were killed by a homemade bomb in Dhroga during ongoing operations against terrorists holed up in the Jebel Chaambi area who "receive assistance from other entities" and "are about to move." Some 45 terrorists have already been detained, including the owner of a weapons storehouse. Terrorists thought to be in the area include Kamel Gadhgadhi, assassin of opposition leader Chokri Belaid, and Abou Iyadh, the leader of Ansar al Sharia Tunisia, who is wanted for the September 2012 attack on the US Embassy in Tunis. Special forces raided the Hammam-Lif home of Abou Iyadh yesterday but did not find him.
The Interior Ministry announced that Tunisian forces have arrested 45 jihadists in the Jebel Chaambi area in ongoing operations over the past several weeks; photos and names were released for a group of terrorists consisting of 20 Tunisians and 11 Algerians. The Jebel Chaambi group is said to include active members of Ansar al Sharia Tunisia. Among those terrorists still at large is Ansar al Sharia leader Seif Allah Ben Hassine, a.k.a. Abou Iyadh. Tunisian border guards have begun checks to prevent Algerian Salafists under 35 years of age from entering the country.
After being denied legal status because the group contradicts democratic values and seeks to establish a caliphate, Tunisia's Hezbollah has filed an application for a license under a new name, Hezb al-Oumma, and promised to stop promoting a caliphate. Party leader Seifeddine Laajili, a media professional, claimed that the group has "nothing to do with Lebanon's Hezbollah," and that it is just "a party that seeks to unify religious sects in Tunisia and outside it to promote love." Tunisian authorities allegedly have already approved over 150 new political parties.