Salafi Jihadism in Tunisia

The International Centre for Counter Terrorism – The Hague (ICCT) was delighted to welcome you to the Expert Meeting “Salafi Jihadism in Tunisia: When Will the Violence Begin, and Who Will Feel the Impact?”. Within months of the ouster of Tunisian dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in 2011, the country saw its first salafi attacks on other Tunisians: prostitutes in Tunis’s Impasse Side Abdallah Guech were confronted by several hundred outraged citizens bearing sticks and torches. Since then, as the country attempts to settle into a new mode of governance, salafi jihadists have been an increasingly visible force, most prominently represented by the group Ansar al-Sharia Tunisia (AST), which shares al-Qaeda’s worldview.

AST is interesting both for its significant connections to well-established international jihadist figures – including  those from Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Morocco, and beyond – and also the strategy it has implemented. It sees a tremendous opportunity to spread its message in Tunisia, and has been very active in undertaking dawa efforts, and even providing social services, while keeping its violent activities at a low enough level so as not to trigger a government clampdown. At the same time, it has used violence, both at home and abroad (including spearheading the September 2012 assault on the U.S. embassy in Tunis, sending AST fighters to Syria, and attacking domestic opponents), and is actively testing – and pushing – the limits of what might be considered acceptable levels of violence. This seminar aims to answer the questions: Do Tunisia’s salafi jihadists have an effective strategy? Will the government be able to marginalise them? When will they stop seeing Tunisia as a land of dawa, and instead as a land of jihad – and who will feel the impact?

Agenda

13:45 – 14:00: Doors open, tea and coffee served
14:00 – 14:10: Welcome, Marjanne de Kwaasteniet, Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
14:10 – 14:20: Introduction, Prof. Dr. Edwin Bakker,  ICCT
14:20 – 15:10: Presentation of Research Findings, Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, ICCT
15:10 – 15:20: Reaction by Mr. Gilles de Kerchove, EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator
15:20 – 17:00: Roundtable discussion and close of meeting

Read the full meeting report.