Counter-Terrorism: Another Battle Of Kasserine Pass

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May 7, 2013: In Tunisia a group of fifty or more Islamic terrorists are operating in the Mount Chaambi region near the Algerian border (close to the Kasserine Pass through the Atlas Mountains that stretch across most of the North African coast). Soldiers and police are searching a hundred square kilometers of sparsely populated forests and mountains without much success. The searchers have found evidence that there is someone up there but the group has so far managed to avoid detection. This is the first time Tunisia has had to deal with armed Islamic terrorists since 2007.

These armed men have been active in the area for at least six months. Soldiers sent to the area have suffered about twenty casualties from booby-traps and handmade landmines left around by the terrorists. A camp was found near the top of Mount Chaambi and it contained documents, weapons, and equipment indicating the size and origin of the group. This group appears to be well supplied and seems to have enough cash to keep themselves going for a while. Some of these men have recently fled Mali and others are from Algeria. These were joined by a smaller group (a dozen or so) of Tunisian Islamic terrorists who had apparently not been active until joined by all these new men and a few local recruits. Eleven of the 32 terrorists killed nearby in an attack on an Algerian natural gas field in January, were Tunisian, which provided a hint that there were a lot more Islamic terrorists in Tunisia than the government wanted to admit.

There has been one gun battle near Mount Chaambi so far, in which no one was hurt. Police have arrested twenty suspects in the region, but none of these appear to have much knowledge of the Islamic terrorists in the mountains. There appear to be at least two separate armed groups and police are blocking the few roads in the area to try and prevent the terrorists from moving to another part of the country.

Tunisia was the first country to carry out an Arab Spring uprising and a new government was installed two years ago. Islamic radicals were released from jail and allowed to operate in the open as long as they did not turn to terrorism or anything illegal inside Tunisia. These radicals have tried, so far without success, to get the new government to establish a religious dictatorship that would enforce Islamic (Sharia) law.

 

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