Country Report on Terrorism 2010 - Chapter 2 - Tunisia


Overview: The Government of Tunisia placed a high priority on countering terrorism, using tight border and internal security controls to deter the formation of terrorist groups and block any potential for terrorist actions; social programs to reduce the impact of high unemployment and help prevent radicalization; and prosecution to punish potential terrorists. Domestically, the Tunisian government had a strong internal security apparatus through which it provided a tight security net across the country including check points, and unannounced identity document checks. It provided extensive security for those events or persons that could potentially attract terrorist attention, such as the annual Jewish pilgrimage to the island of Djerba, soccer games, and public demonstrations.

Legislation and Law Enforcement: The Tunisian government prosecuted at least 40 separate terrorism-related cases in 2010, many including multiple defendants. Of those cases, two involved people accused of joining a terrorist group outside the country, one case included charges of providing weapons, two cases involved receiving training for terrorist purposes, and several cases included charges of recruiting. The majority of charges, however, related to collecting money without authorization, joining a terrorist group, setting up an illegal group, holding unauthorized meetings, neglecting to inform the authorities of terrorist acts, and/or downloading prohibited material.

Countering Terrorist Finance: Tunisia is a member of the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force (MENAFATF). The head of Tunisia's Financial Intelligence Unit served as MENAFATF’s President in 2010. The Tunisian government has complied with UNSCRs 1267 and 1373 in many respects, generally concerning the implementation of effective financial controls in Tunisia. There were at least four court cases in 2010 where individuals were charged with collecting or donating money with intent to support terrorist goals.

Regional and International Cooperation: The principal focus of Tunisian government counterterrorism efforts was to secure its territory. Thus, it worked with its neighbors Libya, Algeria, France, and Italy to seek information on migration and smuggling issues and to improve its border security. In December, the Tunisian government signed a new security agreement with Mauritania. Tunisia is a Mediterranean Partner for Cooperation in the OSCE. The Tunisian government participated in the October OSCE Mediterranean Conference on European Security, and in the December OSCE Summit in Kazakhstan. In his presentation at the OSCE Summit, Secretary of State for Maghreb, Arab, and African Affairs Harguem emphasized Tunisia's commitment to countering terrorism, expressed concern that unilateral security measures have reached the limits of their effectiveness, and called for greater international mobilization to create a global response to the phenomena of marginalization, exclusion, and poverty that encourage violent extremism. Tunisia is also host to the Arab League's Arab Interior Ministers' Council, which meets annually. In the December meeting, the ministers focused on combating terrorist use of the Internet. Tunisia acceded to the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, as well as the 2005 Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material.

Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism: The Tunisian government continued to maintain tight control over the religious establishment, appointing imams, dictating Friday sermons, closing mosques between prayer times, refurbishing mosques in need of repair, and keeping watch at the local level over who attends services. The Tunisian government promoted a moderate form of Islam through the educational system and the media.