Authors: Ertig Couture
Flaunting the Tunisian's government achievement in the fight against militant Islam, on Saturday Tunisia's Interior Minister claimed that his government has prevented some 12, 490 nationals from "leaving Tunisian territory to combat zones" in Iraq, Libya and Syria in the last two years.
According to AFP, speaking to a parliamentary committee, Interior Minister Najem Gharsalli also told Tunisian officials that in the first quarter of 2015, some 1,000 suspects have been tried in courts for alleged links to terrorist organizations.
While Gharsalli stopped short of providing any figures regarding sentences doled out, a spokesman for the prosecutor's office, Sofiene Sliti, explained that 83 verdicts had been delivered out of 124 actual court cases. He too however, did not go into detail as to the nature of these verdicts or whether anybody was actually charged.
In March, Tunisian militant believed to belong to the Islamic State group assaulted the Bardo Museum in the capital of Tunis, killing 24 people including 20 foreign tourists and sparking what one Interior Ministry spokesman called a "large-scale campaign against the extremists."
Tunisian authorities imitated a widespread crackdown after the attack, detaining 20 suspects and plunging the country into a nation-wide state of increased security.
Tunisia has played a central if not ambiguous role in shaping the post Arab-Spring period. The wave of political and societal reform, marked by mass protests and violent government crackdowns, even revolutions in various Arab capitals, initially began in Tunisia after the self immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi, a disenchanted fruit-seller. Under immense pressure from popular demonstrations, Tunisia's own political strongman, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, was ousted in 2011.
Yet according to Tunisian authorities, the small North African state has also been the origin-point of 2,000 to 3,000 foreign fighters who filled the ranks jihadist groups like the Islamic State group.