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    Ansar al-Sharia Defies Tunisian Government, Declares Loyalty to ‘Jihadist Groups’

    By Robert Joyce | Sep 4 2013 Share on Linkedin Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Google Share on pinterest Print

    Tags: Al Qaeda ,Ansar Al Sharia ,Jihad ,terrorism
    Man Waving Ansar al-Sharia flag, 2013. Photo courtesy: Ansar al-Sharia Tunisia Facebook page

    Man Waving Ansar al-Sharia flag, 2013. Photo courtesy: Ansar al-Sharia Tunisia Facebook page

    Ansar al-Sharia in Tunisia issued a statement Tuesday declaring their long-standing loyalty to “jihadist groups” and warned that the authorities are “dragging the country into a bloodbath.”

    The statement was posted on a Facebook account identifying itself as the group’s official page.

    The five-page release comes in response to government accusations last week that members of the group were involved in the assassinations of two opposition politicians this year, as well as in violence by armed fighters in western Tunisia that has claimed the lives of a number of Tunisian soldiers. [display_posts type="related" limit="3" position="right"]

    The group accused the government of creating a pretext that would allow the United States to “directly intervene” in Tunisia by designating it a terrorist organization.

    The government has asserted a connection between Ansar al-Sharia and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, but Tuesday’s statement left its relationships with outside groups uncertain.

    The group asserted its “organizational independence” and stated that it is “not linked to any group abroad.”

    The statement did, however, reference a “loyalty” to other organizations outside Tunisia.

    “Our loyalty to qaeda al-jihad and all jihadist groups in the world has been declared since day one,” the statement read.

    Aaron Zelin, a researcher on Muslim extremist groups at the Washington Institute, said the phrase “qaeda al-jihad” references al-Qaeda’s official name in a Twitter post on Wednesday.

    However, the phrase can also mean “principle” or “base” of jihad, which has many meanings, including individual moral struggle and violence against those not conforming to a fundamentalist interpretation of Islam.

    Prime Minister Ali Laarayedh declared Ansar al-Sharia a terrorist organization on August 26, formally criminalizing all of the groups’ activities. The group has been considered illegal since May, when it was banned after refusing to file for a permit to hold its annual conference in Kairouan. [display_posts type="same_author" limit="3" position="right"]

    Since then, the government has conducted multiple raids, including some on mosques, arresting people they claim to be “extremists.” The Ministry of Defense has also escalated anti-militant operations, including on Chaambi Mountain near Tunisia’s border with Algeria. Areas around the southern borders with Algeria and Libya were declared restricted security zones last week.

    “This oppressive government and its ministry of terrorism want chaos and to drag this country into a bloodbath,” Ansar al-Sharia said.

    The group also referred to current political negotiations and the prosecution of members of the Ennahdha movement under the government of former President Zine al-Abedine Ben Ali. Ennahdha, which is now Tunisia’s ruling party, has an Islamist ideology.

    The government is classifying Ansar al-Sharia as a terrorist group in an attempt to divert attention from the “catastrophe” of the “alliance with Essebsi,” the statement said, referring to the leader of the Nidaa Tounes opposition party.

    “Ennahdha in the 1990s preferred to lead their sons like sheep into prison,” the statement said, adding that Ansar al-Sharia will not do the same.

    Despite the official ban on its activities that was announced in May, Ansar al-Sharia has continued to conduct charity activities, heavily promoting them on its Facebook page.

    Asma Smadhi contributed reporting

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  • Comments

      Hayy Ibn Yagdhan /

      I think your analysis lacks any historical perspective and is missing important facts. Bourguiba did not consider Islamism a disease, the term Islamism did not exist at the time. Bourguiba correctly identified Ennahdha, Ghannouchi/Kheriji brain child as Khawaraj and a foreign import. He also wanted to impose the correct remedy or at the least the remedy that has been successfully used to deal with Khawarej groups whenever they emerge, be it in the Al Hajjej or later withe the first Saoud dynasty at the hands of Mohamed Ali. Ansar Al Charia relative appeal (studies put their following is around 10,000, with acore group of less 1000 so it’s not significant in a country of 11 million) is mainly due to Ennahdha’s support and international funding: Ennahdha thought it could the Ansaris be a useful as chock troops so they gave them assistance and control over a large number of mosques, Ansar has an extensive international support and funding from Europe, Saudi, Libya and private Kuwaiti donors, they also get compensated (to the tune of 3,000 dinars) for each cannon fodder volunteer they send to Syria. Tunisian volunteers in Syria have a higher death rate than any other nationality in Syria, proof that the poor saps are just used as cannon fodder by more experienced Chechen and Syrian commanders in Nusra and ISIS. Ennahdha dropped Ansar after the defeat of the brotherhood in Egypt where it became clear that a confrontation with the rest of the population is a loosing strategy.

      Please stop using poverty or exclusion as the excuse for Jihadism, India where 1 billion people live on less than $4 a day did not spawn any Jihadi even though it has the largest muslim population and the moslems in India occupy at the bottom rungs of society.

      Jihadism/Salafism is Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy. Their support of the Jihadism whether in Afghanistan, Algeria, Syria or Tunisia has been sustained and extensive and Prince Bandar was very candid about it in his recent interview with WSJ (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323423804579024452583045962.html).
      So the leaders of this movement, it’s a question of money, Chariaa has nothing to do with it. Saudi Arabia applies Charia and yet it’s boiling just follow @mujtahidd to get a view of what some of the population think of the ruling family.

      The right approach to deal with this plague is to expose the charlatans that are leading the young people astray, expose these pseudo leaders for whom they really are. Just like people got disillusioned with Ennahdha after they discovered that they were in it for the money.

      There are rules in Islamic Jurisprudence, an assistant butcher like Abu Iyadh (that’s his occupation) can’t nominate himself Islamic Scholar and expect people to trust his ideas. Thankfully the true Islamic Scholars (those that have real qualifications from Al Zeitouna: the oldest islamic university ) are speaking up and showing the people that Abu Iyadh and his ilk are just charlatans that don’t know the first thing about the Chariaa they claim to be supporting. They are not Ansar Al Chariaa, they are the enemy of Chariaa. The other charlatan Ben Hassine is now in a jail in France for fraud.

      • england /

        Thank you for that information it certainly helped me fill in the historical gaps of this group I hope the author of the article also read it. thanks again.

    1. Big al /

      Oh, that you would burst from the heavens and come down! How the mountains would quake in your presence! As fire causes wood to burn and water to boil,Your coming would make the nations tremble.
      Then your enemies would learn the reason for your fame! Isaiah 64:1-2

      Going before the Father!

      Call on the Lord to come down, burst out of heaven and come to the Tunisian people.
      Ask Him that the mountains in Tunisia would tremble at His presence, filling the land. As a spark sets twigs on fire and causes water to boil, may the coming of the Lord on the Tunisian people be like fire that causes water to boil.

      May His coming have such a great effect on them that they react and boil with joy in knowing Him.
      May He make His name known in Tunisia and may they fall on their knees before Him.
      Pray for the fame of the Lord to grow across Tunisia and all His enemies would know of His fame.




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