Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Tunisian Jihadis

A group of revealing July 13 tweets by Lebanese journalist Jenan Moussa (lightly edited for clarity) on Tunisian jihadis in Syria:

I gained access to ISIS prisoners captured by Kurds in Raqqa. One of them was a Tunisian ISIS member...
I sat for 2 hours with a 34-year-old Tunisian ISIS prisoner. During the interview he never looked me in the eye because I'm a female reporter.
I asked him why he joined ISIS. He said, When the Muslim Brotherhood government was in power*, they encouraged the youth to go to Syria.
He said, In Tunisia the mosques said, Go to Syria for jihad. And we were told there'd be no repercussions when we returned. So I left.
My friend and I flew to Turkey. When the customs officer at Istanbul Airport realized we were going to Syria, he said, Yalla, go fast!
It was just so easy to join ISIS in Syria. Now I look back and I think, Was this all a conspiracy to get us all in one place and kill us all?

[*Presumably a reference to Rached Ghannouchi's Ennahda Movement government of 2011-14. Abdel Bari Atwan has this to say on the subject: "I have observed Tunisians in the ranks in previous jihads, but only in very small numbers... former Tunisian dictator Ben Ali suppressed all jihadist activity and imprisoned even moderate Islamists. The 2011 revolution and the subsequent victory of Islamist parties inspired a revival of hard-line Islamism in that country. Now, groups like Ansar al-Sharia (Partisans of the Law, based in Libya) are able to recruit openly and have funded and facilitated the passage of Tunisian jihadists to the frontline." (Islamic State: The Digital Caliphate, 2015, pp 165-66)]

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