Oct 20 2012
TUNISIA: So-called ‘moderate Islamist’ leader conspiring with al-Qaeda linked Salafists to rid the country of all its liberals and secularists
Ah, yes, another member of Barack Hussein Obama’s Arab Spring triumph, going down in flames.
Long War Journal The leader of the supposedly moderate Ennahda political party in Tunisia has been caught on tape strategizing with Salafists to gain control of the country. In the video, he also acknowledged contacts with leaders of al Qaeda-linked groups, including one that attacked the US embassy on Sept. 14 and another that supports the establishment of a global Caliphate.
Rachid Ghannouchi, the co-founder and current leader of Ennahda, the largest political party in Tunisia, is seen on video encouraging a group of Salafists to bide their time and build institutions instead of rushing to take control of the country. The videotape was recorded in January, and released on Oct. 9. Ghannouchi and Ennahda claim to espouse a moderate form of Islam; the party currently holds the office of prime minister.
“The secularists are still controlling the media, economy and administration,” Ghannouchi warned the Salafists, according to Magharebia. “Therefore, controlling them would require more time.” He advised the Salafists to “create television channels, radio stations, schools and universities” to increase their influence.
Tunisia’s Religious Affairs Minister Nourredine al-Khademi on Saturday estimated that about 400 of Tunisia’s more than 5,000 mosques had fallen under the sway of ultra-conservative Salafists.
Ghannouchi also warned that “the police and army’s support for Islamists is not guaranteed, and controlling them would also require more time.” He continued: “I tell our young Salafists to be patient…. Why hurry? Take your time to consolidate what you have gained.”
“The Islamists must fill the country with associations, establish Qur’anic schools everywhere, and invite religious preachers because people are still ignorant of Islam,” Ghannouchi stated.
Ghannouchi also said he supported a constitutional amendment to allow for Sharia, or Islamic law, and heaped scorn on secularists who are tolerant of Islam. He went on to point out that Ennahda’s ascent to power in Tunisia presents an opportunity for Islamists. “The government is now at the hands of Islamists, the mosques are ours now, and we’ve become the most important entity in the country,” he said.
In the video, Ghannouchi admitted: “We’ve [Ennahda] met with Hizb ut-Tahrir, and the Salafists, including Sheikh Abu Iyad [al Tunisi] and Sheikh al-Idrissi.”
Sheikh Abu Iyad al Tunisi’s real name is Seifallah ben Hassine, and he is the current emir of Ansar al Sharia in Tunisia. Official documents prepared by the US government and the United Nations show that Hassine has long operated as a part of the al Qaeda network. Hassine co-founded the Tunisian Combatant Group, which was created “in coordination with” al Qaeda, according to the United Nations. Hassine reportedly met with both Osama bin Laden and Ayman al Zawahiri prior to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
The Tunisian Combatant Group is known to have a presence in Europe. Additionally, at least five current Guantanamo detainees were members of the Tunisian Combatant Group. [See LWJ report, Al Qaeda ally orchestrated assault on US embassy in Tunisia, for more information on Hassine and the Tunisian Combatant Group.]
Hassine has rebranded the Tunisian Combatant Group and other Salafists as Ansar al Sharia in Tunisia. The group is responsible for the Sept. 14 attack on the US embassy in Tunisia. The American staff evacuated the embassy unscathed, but the attackers hoisted an al Qaeda-style black flag high above the compound and ransacked American property. Hassine led the attack.