Tunisia foils al-Qaeda expansion plan
[Magharebia] Tunisia thwarted an attempt by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) to establish a terror cell in the western regions of Kasserine and Jendouba, Interior Minister Ali Larayedh announced on Friday (December 21st).
"We have discovered a terrorist group linked to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in a training camp run by three Algerians close to AQIM leader Abou Moussaab Abdelouadoud" (aka Abdelmalik Droukdel
... aka Abdel Wadoud, was a regional leader of the GSPC for several years before becoming the group's supremo in 2004 following the death of then-leader Nabil Sahraoui. Under Abdel Wadoud's leadership the GSPC has sought to develop itself from a largely domestic entity into a larger player on the international terror stage. In September 2006 it was announced that the GSPC had joined forces with al-Qaeda and in January 2007 the group officially changed its name to the
Al-Qaeda Organization in the Islamic Maghreb....
), Larayedh said.
Sixteen suspected cell members were taken into custody on December 13th, according to the minister.
The AQIM cell also stands accused of carrying out the December 10th killing of a Tunisian National Guard officer in Kasserine province. Twenty-seven year old Anis Jlassi was killed when a shootout broke out with krazed killers.
According to the interior minister, the suspects in the terror network were planning to carry out acts of sabotage in Tunisia. He added that the beturbanned goons rounded up during the past two weeks belong to the Uqba Ibn Nafi battalion, affiliated with AQIM.
Larayedh said that al-Qaeda was aiming to form a camp in Tunisia at the border and to establish an organization associated with al-Qaeda. Their goal was to carry out subversive activities under the banner of jihad.
He pointed out that al-Qaeda was also trying to attract young members who embrace their hard-line ideology. The terror network is also attempting to train the recruits militarily and ideologically, before sending them to camps in Libya and Algeria for further instruction.
Larayedh explained that the terror training camp site was chosen to avoid detection.
The interior minister said police found TNT, weapons, large quantities of ammunition, military maps, binoculars, encrypted documents and uniforms.
Eight members of the terror cell were captured in Jendouba earlier this month in an operation shortly after the Kasserine clash. At the time, interior ministry front man Khaled Tarrouche said suspects were stopped near Fernana, where security officers found detonators and explosives.
a hangover is the wrath of grapes...
other terror suspects managed to escape and went into hiding on Jebel Chambi, the highest mountain in Tunisia. Larayedh said the efforts of the National Guard forces, security and army continued toward catching those who are in hiding in the mountains, adding that he hoped the operation would not take too long.
The minister confirmed that they had Kalashnikov rifles smuggled from Libya and Algeria. Larayedh also revealed that some detainees were seen in demonstrations and protests as well as at camps organised by Ansar al- Sharia, the most rigid jihadi salafist organization in Tunisia.
"Yet we have no evidence of organizational links between this group that is being formed and Ansar al-Sharia
...a Yemeni Islamist militia which claims it is not part of al-Qaeda, even though it works about the same and for the same ends...
," Larayedh added. In this context the Tunisian interior minister called on parents to keep an eye on their children so they wouldn't get lured into adventures with "no good purpose or end, neither in this world nor in the hereafter".
Posted by: Fred