One of the American brothers arrested in northern Tunisia in connection with terrorism charges is understood to be 31 year old Patrick Alan Lawwill, from Lansing, Michigan. Lawwill was arrested along with his brother, understood to be a 32 year old named Nathan.
Working in partnership with the Lansing State Journal, a daily newspaper in Michigan’s capital, Tunisia Live has discovered that both brothers appear to have lengthy criminal records, including charges of domestic violence and, in one instance, indications of mental health issues.
Lawwill and his brother were detained by Tunisian authorities Tuesday morning after they were found plotting terror attacks from an encampment in Zawha City. The brothers have been staying in the greater Tunis area for about a year, Jawhara FM reports, but recently moved to Jendouba on October 23. According to police, the brothers had been in contact with international terror groups via social media.
Police described the brothers as having been found unwashed, with long beards, and living in poor conditions in an encampment near the University of Jendouba.
While the brothers claimed to have been studying computer science at the University of Jendouba, sources at the local police station said they were not enrolled at the University and that this was likely a cover.
Police were tipped off by locals, suspicious of the men’s activities and discovered jihadist content on the brother’s personal laptops and plans to build explosives.
In the company of a translator, the brothers told authorities that they had recently converted to Islam, and wanted to introduce Shariah law throughout the country. They also had stamps from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on their passports.
One of the brothers is said to have entered into an Urfi, (religious rather than legal) marriage with a Tunisian girl from Borj Louzir, Ariana. She was arrested in Lafeyette, Tunis Tuesday afternoon.
According to local police in Jendouba, the brothers will be transferred to a judicial division in Tunis.
A spokesperson for the U.S. embassy speaking to Tunisia Live yesterday declined to comment on the developing story.
Update 19:09: According to a report in Kapitalis, the two brothers have been released in the absence of direct evidence linking them to terror plots. The report states that the men must remain available to Tunisian authorities pending further investigation. Tunisia Live has been unable to independently verify the report.