The Tunisian gendarmerie announced on Friday the arrest of a suspected supporter of the Islamic State (IS) group in possession of explosive materials, which was planning “four simultaneous terrorist operations” in the country, as the summer season approaches.
This “terrorist element” was arrested in Sfax, Tunisia’s second city. “He planned these operations in coordination with other people outside Tunisia,” National Guard (gendarmerie) spokesman Houcem Eddine Jebabli told AFP.
He appeared before the anti-terrorist unit which issued an arrest warrant against him, according to the same source. “He is a supporter of Daesh,” added Jebabli without giving further details.
The precedent of May 9
Since a deadly attack on May 9 by a gendarme near the Ghriba synagogue on the island of Djerba during the annual Jewish pilgrimage, Tunisia has tightened its security measures.
Three gendarmes and two faithful – an Israeli-Tunisian and a Franco-Tunisian – were killed by the assailant’s shots, before he was shot dead by the police. Four people linked to the assailant, suspected of being involved in this operation, were arrested and taken into custody, according to local media. The Tunisian authorities denounced a “criminal” attack but refrained from qualifying it as “terrorist” or giving it an anti-Semitic dimension.
After the popular revolt of 2011 that caused the fall of dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisia experienced a boom in jihadist groups. Several attacks perpetrated by the latter have killed dozens of tourists and security forces. The authorities claim to have made significant progress in the fight against jihadists in recent years.