Thursday, March 14, 2013

Tunisian 'martyrs' celebrated by Ansar al Sharia

A poster honoring eight Tunisians who died fighting in Syria.

In early February, a video of an interview with Ansar al Sharia Tunisia's leader Seifallah ben Hassine (a.k.a. Abu Iyad al Tunisi) was released online after it had been banned by government officials. Hassine, who is wanted for instigating the Sept. 14, 2012 assault on the US Embassy in Tunis, was asked about the migration of young Tunisians to the jihadist battlefields in Syria and Mali. He responded by discouraging the practice, saying Tunisia's Salafi jihadists were needed at home and that the wars abroad have "emptied Tunisia of its young."

A review of Ansar al Sharia Tunisia's official Facebook page and other online sources tells a different story. Hassine's organization frequently celebrates the "martyrdom" of Tunisians, especially those who fought in Syria.

In Facebook entries posted this week, the group showcased Tunisians killed in Syria. And Ansar al Sharia's logos accompanied the young Tunisians' images, thereby indicating the organization's official seal of approval.

One post announces the death of a Tunisian who fought in Deir al Zour, a city located on the Euphrates River that the Al Nusrah Front is currently seeking to capture. The Facebook posting says that he fought for the Hamza Bin Abdul Muttalib Brigade.

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