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Rafik Haj Kassem was the Interior Minister during Ben Ali's government. He was nominated to hold this position on November 10th, 2004, and was considered to be one of the most loyal figures to Ben Ali and his regime. He was an active member of the Constitutional Democratic Rally's (RCD) political bureau.

Haj Kassem was known to be the mastermind behind tracking down human rights activists, opposition members, and ordinary people. During his term in the Interior Ministry, the ministry was dubbed the "Ministry of Terror," reflecting the fear that many Tunisians felt due to the abuses committed by the ministry's officers and the torture tactics used against prisoners.

On January, 12th 2011, he was dismissed from his position when then President Ben Ali proceeded to dissolve the government, as it failed to stop the unrest, which preceded the Ben Ali's departure from the country.

Haj Kassem was arrested as he was tried to cross the border into Algeria. He was first proviso-reserved, and then was taken to jail as he was accused of murdering demonstrators.