U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham Demands Access to Tunisian Terror Suspect

By Paul Rosenfeld | Nov 1 2012 Share on Linkedin Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Google Share on pinterest Print

Tags: Ali al-Harzi ,Benghazi ,Lindsey Graham

U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC)

U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) warned yesterday that the American government could reconsider aid to Tunisia if American officials are not given access to Ali al-Harzi, who is a Tunisian suspected of participating in the September 11 attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi.

In a letter to Tarek Amri, the Tunisian charge d'affaires in Washington D.C., Graham urged Amri to engage with the Tunisian government and ensure cooperation between our intelligence services, law enforcement officials, as well as their Libyan counterparts, so that we may question this individual about the horrific attacks that cost us the lives of four brave Americans.

Graham warned that if Tunisian authorities fail to act, the partnership between the two countries could be in serious jeopardy.

Turkish officials first detained al-Harzi in Turkey on October 5 and then transferred him to Tunisian authorities on October 11. He remains in Mornaguia Prison under a preventative detention order.

Al-Harzi is strongly suspected of participating in the attack, which killed U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other American personnel, Interior Minister Ali Larayedh said in a television interview yesterday, according to the Associated Press.

Hafedh Ghaldhoun, al-Harzi's lawyer, said his client is being used as a pawn in a game of political chess. Ghaldhoun reasserted his earlier statements that no evidence exists to support the accusations.

The U.S. is trying to intervene in the Tunisian judiciary system, he said. It's a matter of sovereignty, and the U.S. has no jurisdiction or reason to investigate al-Harzi.

Conflicting accounts surround al-Harzi's detention. The Daily Beast reported that authorities detained the Tunisian because he put up social media posts that implicated him in the attack. Al-Harzi's lawyers maintain he is being unfairly held for a personal phone call he placed to his brother, who escaped in September from a Tikrit prison.

Adel Riahi, the press attaché for the Tunisian Ministry of Justice, said an investigation is ongoing and declined to comment further.

The U.S. State Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Farah Samti contributed reporting

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    Lindsey shooting blank again…..is his NC seat up for grab in a week? Why would Tunisia deal with senators trying to score election points….if anything the Tunisian government would deal with the DOS or the DOJ

    • correction: I thought he is the senator from NC…SC is more accurate. Still, the guy is a known jackass :)..and on another level this story doesn’t justify a front-page on tunisia-live…

    • This is someone who could push the American Senate to underwrite Tunisia’s debt at a very low rate. Soon Tunisia will have to borrow huge amounts of money from anyone who will lend to them to pay their bills – this man is a friend of Tunisia and could help get the approval from the American Senate. Otherwise Tunisia will be borrowing at the same rates as Greece – and look what is happening to them. They can’t pay doctors, or insulin, etc etc. He could not be more important to all people who wish for Tunisia’s prosperity at the present time.

      • I do not think he is on the senate committee on foreign Relations. But in any case, he shouldn’t interfere in the Tunisian judiciary system and I don’t think we should compromise our sovereignty because a guy wants to get reelected in SC.

        To get back to the subject, I don’t think Tn would refuse to cooperate with the US on this issue. Graham is just being a prick and trying to look tough by sending an obnoxious letter. My guess is the Tn is not authorizing direct interrogation of this Tunisian citizen by US agents….and they shouldn’t allow them, these guys are known for torturing people, the Americans that is.

        • All I’m saying is that at the present time Tunisia needs all the foreign friends it can get as there are so many people abroad who either don’t care about Tunisia, or wish that Tunisia will fall into chaos and insecurity so investors/tourists will go to Greece (to help the Euro) or Morocco (massive French interests). And really they just want to interview him, not extradite him so torture is not an issue.

          • yep yep..i agree with you. It appears though that TN agreed to allow FBI agents to attend interrogation of this guy under TN supervision. So all is good i guess.

  1. All the Islamists care about is maintaining their rule at the expense of the economy and individual liberties. They are in power because they were backed by the Americans taking them for “Moderate”. The Americans are naive, there is no moderate Islamist. The only moderates in Muslim countries are the ” Secular Interllectuals” who believe in freedom and democracy. The Americans have only themselves to blame.

    • George, obviously you are not knowledgeable in Tunisian affairs. Tunisians just kicked out one of the world biggest dictators and pretty much started a new world order as far as bringing back people’s voice to the front stage. So comes the next election we will chose who among us to lead us next. If there is any falsification we will kick them just like the last guy.

      PS. Costanza…is that you ?

  2. The US believed the lies of the so called ‘moderate’ government. The attack on the embassy now has them asking questions….Its easy for Tunisia if it does not want to be held accountable then simply stop asking for help and go it alone. At some point the US people will want answers as to what, when and where and since the embassy constitutes US soil under Tunisian protection the government have a duty to answer questions…..

    As for torture I am sure the guy has already been tortured by his own people….I hope they get to the bottom of it because I would hate this person to be used as a scapegoat . Although I would also suspect the Senators comments I have to say he has appeared regularly on US tv since the attack asking the same questions. Any Senator can make things difficult for Tunisia by asking enough questions and the future financial support could be jeopardized.

    My guess is that the US want to question the person because there is no longer any trust in the government….not a good position to be in…..I too hope the elections will show who the people want and I personally think donor countries should wait till then before promising money aid or anything else.

    • don’t be so naive – for a lack of a more poignant word.

      You think enahdha allowed a foreign embassy to be ransacked on purpose?

      It is clear that they had in mind that they will allow a peaceful demonstration and that they could contain it if it turns violent. they underestimated the Salafis and the police were (and still are) ill prepared and had no contingency plans in the case of violence.

      That’s it. It is a technical error by the police and the interior ministry.

      I am sick and tired of wanna-be analysts that think Ennadha allowed and authorized the Salafi to attack the embassy.

      • Then why didn’t they arrest the guy in the mosque who was inciting his followers to violence that day? Why are Imams still in mosques inciting violence now weeks after the incident? There is a limit to how long the government can use naïvety as an excuse.

        • the government is not naive, but weighing repercussions and trying to avoid confrontation with these idiots thinking that reasoning them would work. It looks like they realized that reason won’t work with some Salafi. So…plan B is in action now.

          • So what is plan B….did the guy with the shroud get arrested for inciting trouble? how many Salifast have been detained and brought to trail? I am not naive but the government is judged by the company it keeps. I am tired of hearing the Salifast being treated like naughty children that need to be appeased. I am tired of the unemployment, of young people being lost because of hopelessness, I am tired of the men becoming frustrated and becoming angry at their wives because they cant provide for their families, I am tired of hearing that children are exposed to songs of violence, I am tired of a government that makes excuse after excuse. btw technical errors get people injured and killed. Its all mute now anyway since the US have been observed questioning the person who is being held.

  3. Graham got access for the FBI to the suspected Tunisian terrorist in just 3 weeks. (Hero tag for him there). I’ll speculate and say, I imagine that the Obama administration didn’t want this to happen simply because the terrorist is probably going to say that the attacks were premeditated, the ambassador was tracked, they brought folks in from out of country and they had inside help. Based on the behavior of this administration, I’m going to guess that I’m pretty accurate. Note, Graham does not come up for re-election until 2014 so none of his actions could be driven by a re-election bid, American’s have a notoriously short term memory, so this wouldn’t help his cause.

    • the public are never fully informed about what happens in intelligence circles……some times things are shared on a needs to know basis. This whole incident is very sad, and has been terribly politicized in the most disgusting way. To be sure the families will have been told what happened but sometimes we just cant know everything that happens especially when US troops and other embassy staff are still in situ. Why cant people wait till its deemed safe by those in the know. I believe that the US would have gotten to question this individual with or without the Senators insistence. However we won’t ever know now.

      What I know is that this since this president is a thinker and can be trusted so far to deliver when he says. “things will be dealt with”. I for one am prepared to wait until all is done and the people are given a report of events when the government has them.

      • Angela, in situations like this, you can’t really wait to talk to a suspect. What does he know? Who are the other players, before they completely disappear and clear their tracks? What other efforts are ongoing? Equally, knowing he’s in custody, the opposition can get to him with the story they want put out. Time is of the essence. Truly, if the Obama administration wanted to talk to the guy, they would have talked to him by now. We could have had him in Turkey if we had wanted him (they are in NATO and are required by treaty to help us if asked as we are helping them with Syria). No, there is a very bad smell here I’m sorry to say.