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Cablegate: Tunisia: 2009 Terrorism Report


DE RUEHTU #0942/01 3641120
P 301120Z DEC 09




E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: STATE 109980

General Assessment

1. The Government of Tunisia continued to place a high
priority on combating extremism and terrorism in 2009. In
addition to using security and law enforcement measures, the
Tunisian government also used social and economic programs
including health care and public education to ameliorate
factors contributing to extremism. The government prohibits
the formation of religious-based political parties and groups
it believes could pose a terrorist threat. Tunisia does not
have a rehabilitation or reintegration program. The Tunisian
government puts a high priority on controlling the border
regions and the country is not a potential safe haven for

2. July 30, 2009 the Chamber of Advisors amended the 2003
anti-terrorism law to harmonize national legislation with UN
resolutions related to terrorism financing and money
laundering. The amendments included measures to establish
databases on terrorist financial transactions; protect the
identities of magistrates, judicial police officers and civil
servants involved in terrorism and money laundering cases;
freeze funds belonging to people accused of terrorist
activities; and extend from two to five days the period
allowed for a public prosecutor to issue his judgment on
investigations carried out by the Financial Analysis
Commission. The new legislation also made a clear
distinction between terrorism and resistance, with specific
reference to the Palestinians.

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3. The GOT enforces an anti-terrorism law passed in 2003.
However the GOT's application of the 2003 anti-terrorism law
was criticized by Tunisian and international organizations
which maintain that too many individuals undergo extended
pre-trial detention and face unfair trials that rely on weak
evidence. In response to a claim by Tunisian lawyers that
2000 people had been sentenced under the anti-terrorism law,
the Minister of Justice stated May 27 that 300 persons were
being detained on terrorism charges.

--------------------------------------------- -
Alleged Threat Against U.S. Military Personnel
--------------------------------------------- -

4. On July 2 a private Tunisian lawyer announced in the
press that the government was charging two military officers
along with seven civilians for plotting to attack U.S.
military personnel in country. On July 14, Tunisian media
reported that prosecutors dropped charges, citing lack of
evidence, against the two officers.

Public Cases

5. This list is not comprehensive and lists only those
sentences publicly announced. It does not include those who
were arrested and appeared before a judge but were not

-- March 26, the court in Grombalia, Nabeul sentenced a man
to three years in prison for joining a terrorist movement.
He had been previously arrested in December 2006 and released
18 days later.

-- April 11, the Tunisian Court of Appeal gave 50 young
individuals sentences ranging from 15 months to seven years
in prison for membership in an illegal Salafist group. The
group was originally arrested following the December
2006/January 2007 "Soliman" case, in which government
security forces broke up, south of Tunis, a group called
"Assad Ibn Fourat's Army," which had reportedly been training
to commit terrorist acts.

-- May 14, a woman was sentenced to six years in prison for
belonging to a terrorist organization, incitement to join
terrorist organizations, funding terrorism and traveling
outside the country without official documents.

-- May 20, a military court sentenced one person to three
years in prison on terror-related charges.

-- In June, the Tunisian Appeals Court sentenced 22
individuals to 3-8 years in prison for belonging to a
terrorist organization, obtaining supplies and equipment for
the organization and for calling for acts of terrorism. One
of the 22 individuals convicted was a non-commissioned
military officer.

-- July 6, 19 individuals suspected of belonging to the
Pan-Islamist "Party of Liberation," were given sentences
ranging from 11-14 months in prison for belonging to a
foreign terrorist organization.

-- August 2, a Tunisian was forcibly repatriated from Italy
to Tunisia after completing a six year sentence for belonging
to a terrorist organization. He was arrested upon his
arrival in Tunisia and then released on bail August 10. The
police informed him that he could not leave his house or
receive visitors without permission from the police.

-- October 1, the Tunis court sentenced 6 individuals to one
year in prison for holding an unauthorized meeting, and one
person to ten years for belonging to a terrorist organization
and inciting terrorist acts.

-- October 17, nine men were given sentences ranging from 3-6
years in prison on terror related charges.

6. Tunisians Involved in Cases Abroad:

-- April 24, General David H. Petraeus, head of U.S. Central
Command, in public testimony during a hearing in the House of
Representatives said that four Tunisians had crossed the
Syrian-Iraqi border to carry out several bombings in Baghdad
and Diyala province.

-- May 25, a Belgian paper reported the Egyptian authorities
arrested seven members of a cell with links to al-Qa'ida, one
of them being a Belgian of Tunisian origin. The seven were
arrested on suspicion of having carried out a bomb attack on
February 22 in Cairo.

-- June 30, five Tunisians arrested in 2008 were ordered to
stand trial in Italy on charges of being members of al-Qa'ida
and of recruiting for the jihad.

-- In November, the Italian police broke up an Islamist cell
based in northern Italy. The police announced the arrest of
20 suspects across Europe, reportedly mostly Tunisians,
linked to the cell.

7. The Embassy POC is Laura Byergo, e-mail:, Tel: (216)71-107-306

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