The incident of the Tunisian security authorities’ arrest of a girl who was planning to blow herself up in a tourist area brings back reconsideration of the file of returnees from Syria, as the Ministry of Interior revealed that the 22-year-old girl traveled to Turkey in the summer of 2020 and from there to Syria in 2021, where she received training in terrorist operations.
According to a statement from the Tunisian Ministry of Interior on Friday, January 28, the girl was arrested at Carthage Airport upon her arrival from Turkey on January 10, and after investigations, it was revealed that the girl had spent a whole year in training and was planning to obtain an explosive belt from a Tunisian man.
The statement indicated that the man was previously imprisoned for his involvement in preparing for terrorist operations that were to target prominent state officials at the end of 2021.
In recent months, Tunisia has witnessed an increase in the risk of the file of returnees from Syria, as they were mentioned in more than multiple acts in violation of the law, which raises the question about the significance of the timing.
The series of incidents of returnees from Syria does not depart from the confused political reality in Tunisia, which began with President Kais Saied’s decisions to freeze the parliament and dissolve the government on July 25, 2021.
As a result of these decisions, observers expected an increase in the pace of terrorist acts against the backdrop of the marginalization of the Brotherhood’s Ennahda movement and its loss of its position as the primary political force.
Despite Ennahda pretending to be wise in dealing with matters and its rejection of violence in its statements, this did not translate into reality, as the country witnessed multiple terrorist acts, most notably the mysterious death of police officer Mohsen al-Adili this month when he was scheduled to testify condemning Ennahda in a court session.
According to Ennahda opponents, Adili was killed and did not commit suicide, as he was found hanging in a house in eastern Tunisia.
There were security reports that Ennahda had a commanding influence over terrorist elements, including those returning from Syria, who see the marginalization of Ennahda as a war against Islam that calls for intervention.
Returnees from Syria and conflict areas owe their loyalty to Ennahda, after information was leaked that the movement was behind their deportations, as most of the operations took place when Ennahda was in power and its opponents accused it of either turning a blind eye to travelers or helping them get out of the country.
Thanks to these facilitations, Tunisia has become one of the countries exporting terrorists, and the presence of women on the list of travelers was remarkable, as large numbers of Tunisian women joined the armed factions in Syria and Iraq under the pretext of jihad.
The Ennahda movement has a long history of supporting militias, most notably its declared position on supporting armed militias in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, claiming that they are the internationally recognized authority.
Political activist Sarah Brahmi, daughter of the Tunisian politician Mohamed Brahmi, who was assassinated in 2013, told the Reference that Ennahda’s relations with armed factions, whether in Syria or Libya, are not hidden from anyone. She blamed the movement for the responsibility of deporting large numbers of Tunisian youth to conflict areas, stressing that the movement is currently betting on these returnees to support it in its ordeal after the July 25 decisions.
President Saied has threatened Ennahda with increasing the siege on the movement and resolving the files it is involved in, whether related to violence or financial corruption.