Thousands of Tunisian jihadists in the past four years have been migrating to warring countries abroad such as Iraq, Syria, and Libya to be recruited into al-Qaeda and Islamic State.
This is far more than what any other nationality can account for. According to a senior analyst for the International Crisis Group, Michael Becher Ayari, Tunisia is seen as the land of recruitment for terrorist.
Obviously, this suggests reasons why the fear of invasion from jihadists from abroad is most likely. The migrants could possibly find their way back into the country with more battlefield experience and terrorist activities.
However, the fears haven’t resulted in any attack as declared by western diplomats, a regional analyst, and the government authorities.
Many Tunisian jihadists who migrated to join groups in Libya in 2016 must have died fighting to recapture Sirte, the capital of ISIS’ acclaimed caliphate in northern Africa.
Many extremists who went to Iraq and Syria are believed to have died as well. Many survivals may be captured and kept in prisons in Syria or in a hideout somewhere.
The Tunisian government has been proactive. Militants who find their ways back into the country are arrested and incarcerated to prevent future regrouping.
Tunisia’s Secular State Practice May Be An Issue
Tunisia as a country is a likely target owing to the more secular and liberal views of the government on Islam, freedom of expression and women.
There are records of previous attacks from international jihadist groups in Tunisia. The attack of 2015 still remains fresh when gunmen from ISIS attacked the popular Bardo Museum and the resort town of Sousse killing many people who are mostly foreigners.
Tunisians who are ISIS members came in from Libya and moved to capture Ben Guerdane before being repelled by government forces.