Accusations Fly on Tunisian Opposition Assassinations

While investigations continued into the murders of Chokri Belaid and Mohamed Brahmi, accusations flew among Tunisian officials alleging that certain Ennahda figures were affiliated with extremist jihadist groups.

al-monitor A woman holds a picture of anti-Islamist opposition leader Chokri Belaid near his tomb at a ceremony to mark the 40th day of mourning after his assassination, at El-Jellaz cemetery in Tunis, March 16, 2013. Photo by REUTERS/Anis Mili.

Topics covered

tunisian politics, tunisian opposition, tunisia, rached ghannouchi, ennahda, chokri belaid, assassinations, ansar al-sharia

Oct 3, 2013

Tayeb Oqaili, a member of the national initiative to “uncover the truth” about the assassinations of Tunisian opposition parliamentarians Mohamed Brahmi and Chokri Belaid, revealed that official documents and correspondence from the Interior Ministry — as well as audio recordings — confirm the link between the outlawed Salafist jihadist organization Ansar al-Sharia, which is accused of assassinating Belaid and Brahmi, and the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG). Oqaili said that the LIFG is led by Abdel Hakim Belhadj, who has ties with leaders of the ruling Islamist Ennahda movement in Tunisia.

Despite Oqaili’s allegations, it was well known that the LIFG no longer existed, after it dissolved itself years ago. Moreover, a number of its leaders chose to establish political parties that fielded candidates in the elections of the General National Conference (GNC). These included Belhadj himself, who operates within the al-Watan party. Yet, that the latter knows Tunisian jihadists does not mean that he has anything to do with their activity in Tunisia.

In a news conference on Oct. 2, Oqaili said that the security authorities did not state Belhadj’s name so as not embarrass the Ennahda party, with whom he has close ties.

Leftist opposition activist Chokri Belaid was assassinated in February 2013, and Islamist opposition MP Mohamed Brahmi was assassinated in July of the same year by religious militants, according to the Tunisian Ministry of the Interior.

Oqaili confirmed that all terrorist attacks and assassinations in Tunisia are linked to the same radical group — Ansar al-Sharia. He also stressed that those involved in the issue of stored weapons in the Medenine governorate (in the country’s southern region) are linked to an LIFG leader who visited southern Tunisia on several occasions.

Oqaili showed photos of meetings that he said were held between Ennahda leaders such as Rachid Ghannouchi, former Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali and Human Rights Minister Samir Dello with Libyan jihadist leader Abdel Hakim Belhadj.

In a first response to Oqaili’s statements from the news conference, Dello denied that Ennahda leaders had met with Belhadj. “I have no relationship whatsoever with Belhadj; it is shameful to implicate Ennahda leaders in this issue,” said Dello, who threatened to resort to the judiciary in response to Oqaili’s accusations. “Oqaili’s behavior is irresponsible and he should have resorted to the judiciary instead of making accusations in press conferences.”

In another context, Houcine Abassi, the secretary-general of the General Union of Tunisian Workers (UGTT), the largest labor organization in the country, held meetings with political leaders from the opposition and the ruling coalition as a preliminary step for starting the national dialogue, following Ennahda’s approval on the road map proposed as a solution to the political crisis since the assassination of MP Brahmi more than two months ago. UGTT leader Bu Ali Mubaraki told Al-Hayat that “consultations are in progress despite the attempt of some parties close to the ruling coalition to thwart the dialogue even before it begins,” hinting at the possibility of launching a national dialogue on Friday, Oct. 4, attended by the three premierships.

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