Maghreb turning into ‘terrorist’ hub: Tunis

Maghreb turning into ‘terrorist’ hub: Tunis

TUNIS- Agence France-Presse
Maghreb turning into ‘terrorist’ hub: Tunis

Two people were killed and dozens injured in clashes at the US embassy in the Tunisian capital, when protests over an anti-Islam film degenerated into violence. ABACAPRESS.COM photo

Jihadists pose a “great danger” to the Maghreb region, which is turning into a “terrorist” hub, Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki warned, days after the leader of the ruling party Rached Ghannouchi said the Tunisian authorities would crack down on hardline Salafis.

“We can say that the center for a group of jihadists, the so-called terrorist movement, is moving right now from Afghanistan and Pakistan to the Arab Maghreb region and there is great danger on our doorstep,” Marzouki said in an interview with Arabic daily Al-Hayat published Oct. 2.

3000 militants

In Tunisia, “The number of active (jihadists) who pose a danger is estimated by the police at around three thousand. They are all known and identified,” Marzouki said. He estimated that there were around 3,000 Islamist militants in his country. Tunisian police have been searching for Salafist leaders in connection with the embassy attack, notably Seif Allah Ibn Hussein, also known as Abu Iyadh, who heads the hard-line group Ansar al-Sharia and has managed to escape arrest several times.

“I ask why Abu Iyadh has not been arrested until now,” said Marzouki, a veteran human rights activist with Tunisia’s center-left CPR party, in an apparent swipe at the government dominated by the CPR’s Islamist allies Ennahda.

Rached Ghannouchi, the leader of Tunisia’s ruling party, Ennahda, recently said the authorities would crackdown on hard-line Salafis after deadly violence around the U.S. embassy, saying they posed a threat to the country’s freedoms and security.

Radicals angered by a U.S.-made film mocking Islam attacked the U.S. embassy in Tunis and an adjacent American school last month, in a day of violence that left four people dead and dozens wounded.