Twenty members of a terrorist group called “Abu Mariem brigade” were arrested, announced Wednesday, the Ministry of the Interior, stating that “it is a very dangerous group known for its affiliation to Daech.”
With this dragnet, it becomes clearer that the presence of the Islamic State (IS) in Tunisia is unquestionable and proven. This threat is confirmed by the Interior Department through its former Minister Delegate Ridha Sfar who pointed in a radio statement to the existence of pockets of this organization and even of Al Qaeda in Tunisia, specifically in the northwest of the country.
This threat was expected as already mentioned by several security experts who have constantly warned against the presence of terrorist sleeper cells linked to IS in many parts of Tunisia. Moreover, it comes at a “critical” time when fears about the spread of this phenomenon are growing.
According to US estimates, 20,000 foreigners from 90 countries are currently fighting in Syria, a rate of recruitment and arrivals deemed “unprecedented.” Those of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) are greater than the commonly quoted figure of 19 000 foreigners.
Tunisia first target
The goal is to provide to survivors of Daech and Al-Nosra terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq, a base of retreat and relaxation. For the defeats inflicted on these groups recently forced them to seek refuge in other countries as Libya.
The choice of Tunisia is strategic, especially with the recent events in Libya, more particularly the announcement by several terrorist groups of their allegiance to the Islamic state, and this proves that the danger is at the doors of both Tunisia and Algeria.
Moreover, the flow of young Tunisians who have chosen to join the ranks of the banned organization continue to swell. According to latest statistics, the total number of Tunisian terrorists in Syria is 2,800 of which 90% are active in Daech. Even more, among these, 586 are back in Tunisia.
Habib Essid called to clamp down…
This return can only aggravate the situation and confirm the threat to Tunisia. That view is shared by well informed Iraqi diplomatic sources that have told us that these young people, defeated on the battle scenes in Iraq and Syria, will create terrorist cells and subsequently spread disorder in their countries.
According to our sources, it is imperious to be more vigilant while putting in place the necessary measures, namely the establishment of cooperation mechanisms. “All countries threatened by the return of these fighters are called to cooperate together in order to put an end to extremism,” emphasized our sources.
We see in it another challenge added to others that the government of Habib Essid must meet in terms of control of the situation by finding the best solutions and providing a great effort not only to achieve the objectives of the revolution, but also to ensure stability after a long period of unrest and tensions.
Moreover, the Islamic state has clearly expanded its presence in Libya, and it may be able to conquer a strategic territory in its quest to form an Islamic caliphate, according to Andrew Engel, Institute of Washington.
The head of Daech, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi recognized the Libyan “provinces” of Barqa (Cyrenaica), Tripolitania and Fezzan as belonging to the so-called “Caliphate” says Engel. The terrorist organization wants to dismantle the borders of the North African countries, particularly between Tunisia, Libya and Egypt to form a province similar to the one it has set up in Syria and Iraq, under the name “Euphrates province.”