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How will Tunisia confront jihadis coming home?

Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi sparked controversy when he said that authorities will not arrest jihadis that return to the country after fighting abroad.
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Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi’s statements on the return of Tunisian jihadis from areas of conflict sparked wide controversy in Tunisia. During a visit to France, Essebsi told Euronews Dec. 2, “Jihadis are no longer a threat, and many of them want to return home. We cannot forbid a Tunisian national from returning to his country. … We will not put them all in jail because we do not have enough space. We will take all necessary measures to keep them at bay. We will be watching them.”

Some thought the president was defending jihadis. Others were concerned about the ambiguity of the state’s stance toward Tunisians returning to Tunisia from battlefields in Syria and Iraq. Either way, the controversial statements revealed Tunisian authorities' lack of a clear plan to solve the issue of returning fighters, raising concerns about the security challenges that it might entail.

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