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Tunisia jails all-women jihadist group

Tunisian authorities jailed a group of women believed to have plotted to assassinate a former minister.
The Tunisian Court of First Instance is shown with barriers erected, Tunis, Tunisia, Feb. 20, 2022.

Tunisian authorities jailed on Thursday the members of an all-women terrorist group, who are accused of plotting to assassinate former Interior Minister Hedi Majdoub, according to the media.

The group comprises nine women; two were jailed for 25 years, while the other seven received sentences between three and 14 years. One of them was acquitted.

Why it matters: The case dates back to 2016. According to media reports, a member of the group who lives near Majdoub’s parents had passed on his details. They initially intended to target him during his visit there.

The 2019 US State Department country report reads that the situation in Tunisia had improved in terms of counterterrorism and security.

“Although the risk of terrorist activity in Tunisia remained high in 2019, the Tunisian government’s improved counterterrorism capacity and coordination, as well as its prioritization of border security, contributed to a reduction in the number and severity of terrorist attacks,” it stated.

The State Department country report of 2020 reinforces the above, stating that although the risk of terrorist activities remains high with the Libyan instability adding to the security threats, the number of terrorist attacks in Tunisia decreased in 2020.

Terrorist groups remain present but are unable to carry out attacks as the Tunisian security forces try to control the situation and apply counterterrorism legislation. Lone wolf attacks persist and pose a challenge.  

Know more: Beginning as a response to corruption and economic difficulties, the Arab Spring, which started in Tunisia, overthrew former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. When Kais Saied became president in 2019 his aim was to appeal to younger voters.

During his campaign, he had pledged to combat corruption. However, in 2021 protests erupted in response to police brutality and the economic hardships that had persisted and were increasing due to the coronavirus pandemic. Over the last few years, Tunisia’s economy has deteriorated while the dependency on international financial institutions has increased.

In a radical move aimed at centralizing his power, Saied dismissed the parliament and prime minister in July 2021. He further dismissed the judiciary and called for the arrest of politicians who opposed him.

Tunisia passed a new constitution by referendum in July 2022, granting Saied more centralized presidential powers.

The political crisis in the country has hindered the negotiations with the the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Last December, the IMF decided to postpone talks with Tunisia until the end of the month.

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