Results tagged “Tunisia”
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Abu Iyadh, the wanted leader of Ansar al Sharia Tunisia, expressed support for al Qaeda's Syrian affiliates, the Al Nusrah Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham. A coalition of religious groups demanded changes in the draft constitution as it allegedly violated the principles of Islam. A Tunisian judges' group slammed an Ennahda amendment that would allow the president to appoint members of the high court.
The US Embassy issued a warning to US citizens in Tunisia after the recent designation of Ansar al Sharia Tunisia as a terrorist group. On the night of Jan. 8 and morning of Jan. 9, protesters torched a police station in Sidi Bouzid, and violent protests also took place in Manouba. Calm was restored in Kasserine, Tala, and Feriana on Jan. 9.
Prime Minister Laarayedh announced his resignation but said he would oversee the government until a new one is formed. Two armed terrorist groups infiltrating into Kasserine last night retreated after clashing with security forces. The Interior Ministry is seeking the arrest of Algerian terrorist Khaled Chaïeb a.k.a. Lokmane Abou Sakhr, said to be hiding in Kasserine; he is linked to the murder of national guardsmen in the Chaambi area. The national guard launched raids in Chaambi and in the forests of Ghardimaou in Jendouba.
The Tunisian military bombed Islamist militant hideouts in Mount Chaambi on Jan. 5; the defense minister said between 25 and 30 militants are operating in the area near the Algerian border. The International Crisis Group recently warned that Tunisia is losing control over its border areas near Algeria and Libya, which have become hotbeds for extremists, jihadists, and criminals. Political parties, including the ruling Ennahda party, which has promised to step down, are trying to complete the transition to a caretaker government by Jan. 14. The Congress approved an amendment to the draft constitution banning "accusations of apostasy and incitement to violence."
Debate on the draft constitution was suspended when a deputy from the leftwing Popular Front said he had received death threats after a hardline Ennahda MP publicly denounced him as "an enemy of Islam." Tunisian MPs adopted language yesterday that said Islam was the state religion but promised freedom of conscience and rejected the idea that Islam be the main source of law.
Prime Minister Bhiri said yesterday that "[t]here is no relation between the reinforcement of security measures in the country and the information regarding the arrest of Ansar-Shariaa leader Abu Iyadh." Although Tunisian state media has reported Iyadh's capture, the US has denied involvement. The Foreign Ministry flatly denied the existence of US military bases on Tunisian territory near the Algerian border, which was alleged in a Dec. 30 Algerian media report .
Both Ansar al Sharia Tunisia and the US Embassy in Tunisia denied reports that Seifallah Hassine, the leader of Ansar al Sharia Tunisia, was captured by US forces in Libya. Police arrested seven Salafists in Kasserine yesterday who distributed leaflets banning New Year's celebrations and threatening bakeries.
Police seized $2.3 million worth of gold on Dec. 27 while searching for militants and weapons at a checkpoint on a main road near the town of Al-Miknassi, which is close to Sidi Bouzid, a terrorist hotspot. Authorities would not say whether the gold was linked to terrorism, although the checkpoints have been set up due to fears of attacks by Islamist militants around the New Year. A Tunisian security expert warned that 300 Ansar al-Sharia "emirs" who have received weapons training in Libya are preparing to enter Tunisian territory to assume command of terrorist groups. The new emirs, said to include Libyans, Tunisians, Algerians, and Malians and to be armed with sophisticated weapons, recently swore allegiance to Ansar al Sharia. Yesterday the Interior Ministry dismissed reports that a bomb was found in the capital, and Tunisair denied social media reports that one of its planes had crashed into the sea.
The US ambassador denied the existence of any US military bases in Tunisia, but said al Qaeda-linked groups such as Ansar al Sharia continue to threaten Tunisia. At a gathering yesterday in Sidi Bouzid marking the third anniversary of the start of the Tunisian revolution, the outlawed group Ansar al Sharia and an allied organization, Hizb ut Tahrir, carried banners calling for the imposition of sharia law, the return of the Islamic caliphate, and the release of terrorist detainees, and distributed leaflets demanding that Ansar al Sharia no longer be deemed a terrorist group and that the Terrorism Act be rescinded. The Interior Ministry had warned Ansar al Sharia that it faced prosecution if it appeared at the Sidi Bouzid gathering. Authorities are becoming concerned that hundreds and perhaps thousands of Tunisian youth have been recruited for jihad in Syria and elsewhere.
Mehdi Jomaa, the industry minister, was named the new prime minister of Tunisia's caretaker government, replacing Prime Minister Lareyedh. Ansar al Sharia called for its male supporters to join in protests tomorrow in Tunis on the third anniversary of the self-immolation of a street vendor that marked the beginning of the Tunisian revolution.