Results tagged “Tunisia”
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The trial of 20 suspects in the Sept. 14, 2012 attack on the US Embassy in Tunis opened today. In individual questioning, each suspect denied taking part in the crime; nine suspects are being held in custody. The government has accused the head of Tunisia's Ansara al Sharia, Saif Allah Bin Hussein, a.k.a. Abu Iyadh, of orchestrating the embassy attack; he and other Ansar al Sharia leaders have not been tried.
During a May 24 raid in the western Tunis suburb of Ettadhamen, security forces arrested 11 fugitives, including a Salafist linked to the Sept. 14 attack on the US Embassy. Seven suspects in the killing of a police officer were also arrested recently, while two "religious extremists" are at large. The leader of the Freedom and Justice party estimated that a third of Tunisia's mosques are controlled by Wahhabis, not merely the 100 mosques mentioned by the religious affairs minister.
Algerian AQIM leader Ahmed Abu Abdul-Elah Al-Jigli warned the government that the group was "still committed to the directives of our Sheikh and Emir Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri...to co-operate with [post-revolution governments] in applying sharia," and threatened "fatal consequences" for "injustice." The terror group recently pledged its support for Ansar al Sharia Tunisia. Foreign Affairs Minister Noureddine Khadmi said that a hundred mosques in Tunisia are controlled by radical groups and out of the government's control.
Abu Iyad al Tunisi, the leader of Ansar al Sharia Tunisia, called the ruling Islamist Ennahda party a "tyrant" after the arrest of the group's spokesman and the prevention of rallies by the group over the weekend. Al Tunisi, a follower of al Qaeda-linked Abu Qatada, is wanted for the September 2012 attack on the US Embassy in Tunis. A Tunisian feminist who tried to disrobe near a Kairouan mosque in protest against a planned Ansar al Sharia gathering was arrested.
Supporters of the al Qaeda-linked Ansar al Sharia Tunisia clashed with police in Kairouan and Tunis, where some 500 militants threw rocks, set fire to police cars, and replaced a Tunisian flag with al Qaeda's banner; police fired tear gas at the protesters, who had defied a ban against holding gatherings this weekend. At least 14 people were wounded in the violence, including 11 policemen. Ansar al Sharia spokesman Saifeddine Rais was detained this morning.
The fugitive head of Ansar al Sharia in Tunisia, Abou Iyadh, threatened war against the government for cracking down on jihadists. Sami Essid, another of the group's leaders, confirmed that Ansar al Sharia's third annual conference will take place on May 19 in Kairouan; a spokesperson said the group expects some 30,000 to 40,000 people to attend. A liberal member of government called for an investigation into the group's financing and for the creation of intelligence-gathering agencies.
Foreign Minister Jarandi said about 800 Tunisians are currently fighting with Islamist rebels in Syria; 132 Tunisians are said to have been killed in Aleppo in February alone. The Interior Ministry claims that border controls have kept some 1,000 Tunisians from traveling to Syria to fight. Police clashed with about 1,000 Salafists in Tunis who had without authorization set up tents to preach outside a mosque. The Salafists wielded knives and threw rocks and petrol bombs at the police, who attempted to disperse them with tear gas.
A Libyan man who was trying to smuggle 150 kilos of TNT into the country was arrested in the harbor town of Al Khetif in Ben Guerdane governorate. The explosives were found in the rigid inflatable boat he was using.
Military authorities said the jihadist group they are tracking in the Mount Chaambi region has ties to the al Qaeda-linked Okba Ibn Nafaa brigade; 16 members of the brigade were arrested in December. The Chaambi jihadists are said to include fighters from "neighboring countries," including Algeria, and veterans of the Malian conflict. President Marzouki traveled out to meet the troops in the search operation, and said, "We are currently experiencing a crisis that requires a national effort."
Tunisian forces pursuing a group of 20 to 50 jihadists in the Mount Chaambi area have been unable to capture any of them, although caches of explosives, documents, and food have been seized. Operations against an affiliated jihadist group in the Kef region are ongoing.