In recent leaks by Tunisian award-winning collective blog Nawaat, journalists Malek Khadhraoui, Ramzi Bettaieb, and Houssem Hajlaoui released an investigation on January 8, exposing an alleged weapon deal in which they accused the ruling Ennahdha party of having a shadow intelligence apparatus of its own.
On December 26 and 27, Nawaat posted videos that reveal a conversation over a weapons deal and a plan to kidnap and assassinate important national figures, including politicians, judges, and media figures. The video involved Tunisian businessman Fathi Damak and two other men.
Both Fathi Damak and his son Sadok were arrested by police for interrogation during the last week of December. However, on December 31, Sadok was released while his father remains under arrest. “This triggered our following investigation… How come the two men in the video were not arrested or even interrogated?” said Nawaat journalist Emine M’tiraoui to Tunisia Live.
According to M’tiraoui and to the Nawaat article, Nawaat was asked to stop digging further into the story. The two men present in the video also claimed that they have been following the affair and trying to discover more details in coordination with the Ministry of the Interior.
Suspicions over the work of the two men, reportedly named Ali and Belhassan, led Nawaat journalists to investigate their identities and backgrounds. “It turned out that Belhassan is a member of the League for the Protection of the Revolution and a member of the Ennahdha regional bureau of Ben Arous… Ali is also a member of Ennahdha party,” stated M’tiraoui.
Furthermore, the two men received money from Damak in order to buy weapons. But they stated to Nawaat that they gave the money away as charity to workers in a factory. “This proved to us that their work was not official,” added M’tiraoui.
The assumption drawn by Nawaat in the conclusion of the investigation was that the two men work for a parallel intelligence apparatus that is affiliated with Ennahdha.
When contacting Ennahdha’s headquarters, member of the Shura Council Zoubeir Chhoudi stated that what Nawaat posted was “a fallacy.” “A judicial procedure is to take place in order to solve this,” he added.
According to an official statement issued by the Ministry of the Interior in response to the Nawaat article, the ministry has been following the affair since November and confirmed that they have only used their official apparatuses and were under the supervision of the judiciary. The statement also read, “What has been published recently aims at raising doubt as to the neutrality of the security apparatus.”