Conflicting Accounts of Motives Behind Tunisians Fighting in Syria

By Racha Haffar | Mar 1 2013 Share on Linkedin Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Google Share on pinterest Print

Tags: assad ,Jihad ,rebellion ,Salafist ,Syria ,

A Syrian rebel, left, fires by his AK-47 machine gun against a helicopter during clashes with the Syrian forces troops

As the situation in Syria continues to escalate, Tunisians are leaving their home country to join the fighting on the front lines between rebels and the Al Assad regime.

Tunisians are being fooled by Salafist Jihadists and lured into leaving their homes to fight in Syria, Khalaf el Mofteh, the Deputy Minister of Syrian Media, recently said on Attounsia TV.

They are being told, “The situation in Syria is a fight between the non-believing state and the people, who want to fight it,” he said.

Young people have also come from Turkey and other countries to fight, he said, although no exact numbers are available for the number of Tunisians who have been jailed and killed.

Most Tunisians, who fight in Syria, are killed, severely disfigured, and have their passports burned so they will be unidentifiable, Mofteh said.

“Those organizations who help youth enter Syria often change their passports,” he continued, adding that the Tunisian and Turkish governments should investigate whoever is sponsoring these missions.

Ahmed Youssef, a Syrian journalist and political analyst who supports the Al Assad regime, estimated that around 1,500 Tunisians are fighting in Syria.

“Their numbers were increasing but after realizing the real situation in Syria and the strength of the Syrian army, they retreated and are coming in smaller waves,” he said. “All those who come here with the same purpose of fighting the regime will be killed, and they deserve to be crushed by the army and rejected by the people.”

Youssef added that he believes they enter from the Turkish border with the complicity of Turkish intelligence services. Once the anti-Assad fighters enter an area, they attack its people and control it, he said.

Jabhat Ennasra, which is linked to Al-Qaeda, has recruited people, especially less fortunate Muslim youth from many different countries to fight in Syria, Youssef added.

He said they are supported in their efforts by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, who want to bring down the Syrian state as part of “an American Zionist plan.”

Foreign fighters such as Tunisians are often the first to be killed; Youssef pointed to an incident recently in the Khan El Assal suburb of Syria where a number of bodies of those killed were buried in order to disguise their origins and identities.

But Omar Sheikh, a former spokesperson of the Syrian Transitional Council who opposes the Al Assad regime, claimed the number of Tunisians fighting in Syria could not surpass a few hundred mostly in the northern part of the country.

He said some of them come to Syria on their own and are there to support democracy and freedom.

“Syria does not need any more fighters, so what they do is voluntary, regardless of their religious or ideological backgrounds,” Sheikh said. “Why do we have to judge them as terrorists according to their looks? We all don’t find time to shave in Syria, so having a beard doesn’t mean you are there to fight.”

He added that “most of the Tunisians I met in Syria are respectful and well behaved, and some of them are doctors who have come to help.”

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    The Salifast are disgusting miserable people who only propagate hate. the young men listen to them because they themselves are looking for a cause and believe they are helping their Muslim brothers. The Salifast really should be exposed for the non Muslim people that they are. It is sad that the only way the Salifast people get the young people to go fight is to lie to them. It is even more sad that the young people dont know the difference.

  1. I’m very sick of your comments.

    You know nothing about Islam, you know nothing about what Salafism is. You even know nothing about Tunisia and its history and I’m sure you know nothing about the culture. Have you been to Tunisia before? Sure. But have you spoken to the real people? Are you gone to the impoverished regions and spend time there? Do you even know what the average Tunisian believe in and what their inspirations? You probably know one of two Tunisians who sold their souls for the joy of western life. Do you even speak Arabic?

    Before you criticize a idea, a school of thought, a circumstance, a person or even a frog, you need to get the image in its entirety. If your ideas are based upon what western media say, you’re a complete ignorant.

    • Typical Islamic nonsense. You don’t agree with him so you insult him. How do you know if he never talked with Muslims, or how long he lived in Tunisia? You don’t know anything about Mark or me so insulting our experience and knowledge just shows how stupid you are. Secondly, I know the Quran very well (It’s only a 200 page book which 90% is repition, does not take much to understand extremely simple book)so I know the ideology of Muslims. It’s intolerant to other beliefs and disbelief, it’s extremely violent, it believes in slavery, pedophillia, anti women rights and has no place for either Democracy or freedom of speech. You are so stupid that you blame Western Media for their “negative view” of Islam. as there needs to be an exaggeration of how Islam effected Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sudan, S. Arabia, Iran, etc. We seen what those Muslims have done to those countries, why should Islam have a better effect in Tunisia? Your religion is nothing but a fantasty and you believe it because you were brainwashed as a child, and now that you have grown up, you are so scared to die as the little coward you are, you would rather believe in ridiculous fantasy that is so obvious crap and let it destroy your country then question your own morality. (One obvious logical fallcay, Being born in Muslim country with Muslim family one is 95% likely to be Muslim and have everything to lose and nothing to gain by becoming another religion. However one born of a religious Christian family has everything to lose and nothing to gain in becoming Muslim. Obviously the test is not fair as it is extremely easy for those born Muslims and extremely challenging of those not born Muslim, therefore it’s not a fair test and garbage. Also even more obvious the fact that belief is not something you choose you stupid stupid people. You believe something because you’re convinced it’s true, like the sun exists, you don’t choose to believe the existence of the sun as you can’t really choose to not believe in it. People understaned this with everything else in their life. If I say there is a tiger behind the red door, it would not be immoral to think I’m lying as it would not be immoral to think I’m telling the truth. Those who believe me are not better than those who don’t. How adults are so stupid to think religion is an exception to this rule is the one true miracle of religion.

      • You should write a book about this subject while you sound very knowledgeable. My advise to you thou is to stop referring to people stupid (5 times in a paragraph) that tell me and other wise people that you are as dumb as the people you are insulting..

    • @ Tunisian…… Its very clear what Salifasts want….. look around the world or any place they are….Mayhem death and destruction follow these people….its simply what they do. The do not try to hide their intentions.

      One does not have to be anything in order to understand it. Equally not only Muslims read the Koran…..These are not fail safe ways to measure someones value and costly mistakes will happen if this is the one rule…… Just like serving years in jail does not qualify a person to run a country….sound familiar…

      its ok not to agree but not ok to constantly attack because inarticulateness takes your words. Lastly because you may live there full time does not make you an authority in fact the opposite may be true in that you may be blinded. its not as if the Tunisian media is known for its transparency

          • equally we can go through facebook let me have your details my skype is firstreiki but sometimes there are problems.

          • Had a great conversation with ‘Tunisian’ hopefully much better understanding. I wish the young people of Tunisia the every best of luck. Amazing when we are able to get past the frustration or anger how much people are very similar…..or can at least agree to disagree and still move forward

  2. Too much prominence within this ‘article’ has been given to what the Syrian regime has said.

    Where are the hard and fast facts or is it a simple case of ‘quoting’ an story to life.

  3. The Tunisian officials should do like “Bourguiba” did form a school and organization to take care of the “lost” youth without a job or future they use to be called “Bourguiba children” I was one of them I was sent to university and and now I have a profession and raised my children to be productive citizens. that way we can save these children from the salafists, Qatar and the Saudis, who are headed for “Hell”.