Libya conflict threatens entire Maghreb
Security forces searched for explosives hidden on a farm in Bir Bouregba city based on a confession from a man who was arrested on terrorism charges. Newly appointed Prime Minister-designate Habib Essid said his country will “stand united against terrorism, and we will guarantee Tunisia’s unity and integrity.”
The prime minister said he would support “a UN-supervised counter-terrorism operation by Mediterranean countries” to intervene in neighboring Libya. A blogger has been sentenced by a military tribunal to three years in prison on charges of criticizing the military.
An off-duty policeman was stabbed to death by suspected jihadists in the capital of Tunis on Jan. 4. A former official with the country’s past dictatorship was named prime minister by the newly elected president and asked to form a government.
Outgoing president Moncef Marzouki has ceded the election and promised a smooth transfer of power. Tunisia’s interior minister decried the presence of training camps of Tunisians along the border with Libya affiliated with Ansar al Sharia, declaring them a threat to the country’s stability.
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Anti-Islamist candidate Beji Caid Essebsi has claimed victory in Tunisia’s historic presidential election. His rival and caretaker president, Moncef Marzouki, has not conceded defeat.
The Tunisian Uqba Ibn Nafi Battalion, which is linked to Ansar al Sharia Tunisia and al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, released pictures on Twitter showing weapons taken after clashes with the Tunisian military. The group also claimed two recent attacks in the North African country.
The Tunisian government has declared security forces “ready to cope” as fighting rages at the Ras Jedir border crossing in Libya and as the country’s presidential run-off election looms. Tunisians go to the polls on Dec. 21.
Tunisia closed its border crossing at Ras Gdair on Dec. 15 as fighting raged between pro-government forces and Islamist militias in Libya. The closing follows another air strike by the Libyan Army near the border on Dec. 14.
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The interior ministry announced that security services “dismantled a network that recruited young people for foreign jihad.” A Tunisian-born Canadian was arrested in relation to a terrorism plot upon his return to Canada from Tunisia on Dec. 7. Tunisia’s presidential run-off has been set for Dec. 21.
Military and security forces are on high alert due to fighting between Libyan factions close to the Tunisian border. A Libyan pro-government airstrike hit a rival militia post near the Ras Jedir border crossing on Dec. 5.
Tunisian forces “dismantled” a terrorist cell operating near Kasserine and Tunis on Dec. 1; a mine that exploded in Kasserine killed one soldier and wounded another. Tunisia’s first elected, secularist-led parliament held its opening session on Dec. 2.
Jihadists kidnapped and beheaded a policeman close to Kef near the Algerian border in the country’s northwest. Despite secularist victories in recent elections, Islamist politicians maintain great sway in Tunisia.
Beji Caid Essebsi, a candidate from the secular Nidaa Tounes party, won the most votes in the country’s presidential election. The 39.4% is short of a majority, however, and Essebsi will face a run-off with incumbent President Moncef Marzouk in December.
Voting has begun in Tunisia’s historic presidential election. Tunisian security forces are mobilizing “90,000 personnel to secure polling stations and vital government buildings.” Voting was delayed two hours in “the volatile areas near the border with Algeria” due to terrorism concerns.
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One “terrorist” was killed in a firefight with a National Guard unit in Sidi Bouzid. Tunisia has closed part of its border with Libya due to security concerns surrounding the upcoming presidential election.
The Tunisian National Army launched air strikes on “areas where terrorists would be entrenched in Mount Ouergha, Kef.” The government operation follows a militant attack on a local merchant on Nov. 16.
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Two presidential candidates were notified by security forces of assassination threats; one of the candidates specified Ansar al Sharia was the source of the threat against him. Government agencies are preparing for a wave of Libyan refugees from the neighboring conflict, despite public resentment about the potential impact on resources and the economy.
Interior Minister Lotfi Ben Jeddou said his country “is facing ‘serious security threats along the border with Algeria, that is in the governorates of Kef, Jendouba and Kasserine’” due to “movements by terrorists” in these areas. An expert on political Islam at the Tunisian Institute for Strategic Studies to the Presidency stated that Salafism and […]
Ansar al Sharia Tunisia regularly promotes Abu Qatada’s advice and guidance on its Twitter feed.
Seifallah Ben Hassine (a.k.a. Abu Iyad al Tunisi) has released a short statement saying that the Muslim youth “haunt” the US and the West.
Ayman al Zawahiri’s message concerning the infighting in Syria has been picked up by various jihadist websites, including a Facebook page operated by Ansar al Sharia Tunisia.
Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb has joined other jihadist groups in releasing a statement praising Hakeemullah Mehsud, the Pakistani Taliban commander killed earlier this month. Ansar al Sharia Tunisia posted the message on one of its official Facebook pages.
The Tunisian government blamed Ansar al Sharia for a failed suicide bombing and an additional planned suicide attack last week.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has issued a statement mourning the death of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s deputy leader, Said al Shihri. The statement quickly made the rounds on jihadist social media sites.
In a statement released on its Facebook page and Twitter feed, Ansar al Sharia Tunisia denied any involvement in two high-profile assassinations this year. One day earlier, Tunisia’s interior minister accused Ansar al Sharia members and a longtime jihadist of being involved.