Tunisians Deportation to Tensions’ Outposts

Image: AFP

Tunisian judicial investigations into the deportation of fighters to tension’s outposts have reopened the wounds of hundreds of families, some of whom still hope their children will return to Tunisia even if they spend the rest of their lives in prisons.

A mother of a young man stood in front of the headquarters of the Bouchoucha band in central Tunis, waiting for Rached Ghannouchi, who recently underwent an interrogation session that lasted about 13 hours. She says that she wanted to appeal to the leader of Tunisia’s Ennahda movement to cooperate with the authorities in order to “achieve justice,” but that the movement’s supporters who had gathered around their leader prevented this.

Her son moved to Syria in 2013, after he was deceived by the so-called “Saif Allah bin Hussein” (Abu Ayyad), until he ended up “in a Kurdish prison”, in reference to the “Syrian Democratic Forces” that led the operations of defeating ISIS in northeastern Syria.

She says that she participated in several vigils to demand the authorities take back Tunisians, especially those who face an unknown fate in Syrian prisons, but “their demands have been ignored until today.”

The son was arrested in one of the prisons in Al-Hasakah, since the end of the Baghouz battles east of Deir Ez-Zor, which put an end to ISIS presence in March 2019.

The lady hopes that the issue will be addressed and the Tunisian youths returned to their country as soon as possible, blaming political parties responsible for their transfer to Syria and Libya, in reference to the Ennahda Movement, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) in Tunisia.

The involvement of the MB organization in Tunisia does not need a lot of evidence and proof. The file of the “Deportation of Terrorists” case, which was filed by the former parliamentarian and member of the parliamentary investigation committee, Fatima Al-Masadi, included documents confirming the involvement of foreign official bodies in forging terrorists’ passports that were on the front lines in Syria, in order to return to Tunisia.

The file included documents indicating the presence of security leaders involved in obtaining passports for potential terrorists, during 2012 and 2013, which witnessed the organization of flights via the “Sifax Airlines” company affiliated with the leader of the MB’s Ennahda movement, Mohamed Farikha, the “Tunisian Airlines” and a foreign company.

The issue goal is political, the “Deportation file” reveals that the MB movement has also been involved in extremist activities, and these efforts were led by the MB’s Reda Al-Gawadi, Al-Habib Al-Lawz, and some associations close to the organization.

How many Tunisian fighters remain in Syria?

MENA contacted a Syrian opposition source on the grounds that the first destination for the Tunisian fighters was Syria

The source indicated that the flow of Tunisian fighters to Syria was semi-official, after it was blessed by the “Friends of Syria Conference” organized by former President Moncef Marzouki in February 2012 and attended by Arab and Western countries. Marzouki had reached the position of President of the Tunisian Republic with the support of Ennahda, as part of a consensus with his party, the Congress for the Republic, which participated in the Troika government after the 2011 elections.

The source reveals in private information to MENA the involvement of Haitham Rahma and Muhammad Nazir al-Hakim from the Syrian MB, along with Abdel Hakim Belhaj, head of the Homeland Party and the former emir of the Libyan Fighting Group, the arm of al-Qaeda in Libya.

About 600 Tunisian fighters most of them are in Syria today, they are in the Syrian Democratic Forces prisons, or the Syrian regime prisons, while the rest are hidden in the areas controlled by Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham in Idlib, and in the countryside of Aleppo under the control of the “National Army”.

While the Tunisian Committee for Combating Terrorism, which was formed in 2019, estimates the number of Tunisians to be about 3000, of which 1,000 terrorist returned to Tunisia, between 2011 and October 2018, international research institutions report that there are more than 9000 Tunisian fighters. They are distributed among Syria, Iraq, and Libya.