Young Tunisians? Those young, moderate madcap Muslims are..... misunderstanding the Quran? Jihad? You don't say.
As is the case with all of these articles, the writers are Muslims -- read with that in mind. The bias and the edit is always the same. These violent jihadists are "casualties" of jihad recruitment (as if they could get you or me to behead anyone or strap on a homicide bomb).
The article lays blame in a lot of places, but never on the Islamic texts and teachings that command this monstrous holy war.
Ansar al Shariah gained strength partly because the government turned a blind eye to the group as it became increasingly militant.
You mean like Obama turns a blind eye to jihad?
Young men are recruited in Tunisian mosques, then sent to training camps. Mosques must be surveilled.
"Young Tunisians Embrace Jihad, Raise Tension at Home," By Maria Abi-Habib, Afef Abrougui contributed to this article, Wall Street Journal, December 17, 2013
Concerns Widen About Regional Impact of Syria's Civil War
TUNIS— Aymen Saadi's parents assumed their 18-year-old son was fighting in Syria after he didn't come home in August, a casualty of the sophisticated jihadist recruitment network in Tunisia and growing radicalization.
Word of their son came in October, in a breaking radio news report: He had returned to Tunisia and tried to blow himself up in Sousse, a resort popular with Western tourists, as part of a double suicide bombing. Although security intercepted Aymen, his partner detonated his explosive vest on a beach filled with Western tourists—Tunisia's first suicide bombing in more than a decade. No one else was hurt.
That incident marked a dramatic escalation by Islamic militants who have emerged in Tunisia since the country's 2011 revolution. The government blamed the attack on Ansar al Shariah, a militant group running a sophisticated jihadist recruitment network in mosques and charities across Tunisia in collaboration with an affiliate in Libya.
In Tunisia, Ansar al Shariah gained strength partly because the government turned a blind eye to the group as it became increasingly militant. Ennahda, the party that dominates Tunisia's government, was an ally of the group until this year.
Over the weekend, Ennahda and opposition parties agreed on a new prime minister to form a caretaker government until elections next year. Ennahda agreed to relinquish power in part over opposition pressure over Ansar al Shariah's growing power.
The journey of jihadists like Aymen has crystalized Western and Arab concerns about how Syria's war is drawing young men from the region and the potential dangers once these fighters return home.
Syria's war is becoming what Afghanistan's was in the 1980s: a place for ideologues to meet and become more radicalized before returning home to challenge their governments and destabilize their countries.
Across Tunisia, students aren't showing up for university and sons are disappearing from their homes—new recruits for Syria's war. As many as 2,000 Tunisians are fighting in Syria, government officials said, joining al Qaeda branches including the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham and Jabhat al Nusra. Young men are recruited in Tunisian mosques, then sent to training camps in Darna and Benghazi in eastern Libya run by Ansar al Shariah's Libyan branch, Western and Tunisian officials said. The camps churn out well-trained fighters and ship them off to safe houses in southern Turkey, where they prepare to cross the border.
"They have occupied Darna…and turned it into a training facility, some going to Syria, others staying here," said a Libyan official.
Some Tunisian families complain that their government has done little to help win the release of their sons who have joined the fight.
Abdelaziz and Fathi, who asked that their surname not be used, said their son Hussein, 25, has been in a Syrian jail since he was captured trying to cross the border. The parents said the Syrian government told them and families of other detainees that theTunisiangovernment must investigate jihadist recruitment networks at home to secure their sons' release.
Fathi, Hussein's mother, said she returned to Tunis and transmitted the demand, issued in a formal letter on official government letterhead, to the Tunisian Foreign Ministry.
"We've received no response," she said.
After Ansar al Shariah members attacked the U.S. Embassy in Tunis in 2012 and assassinated two secular politicians this year, the government designated the group as a terrorist organization in August. But Tunisian and Western officials and parents of jihadists fighting in Syria said the move was insufficient.
"Ansar al Shariah seemed to be doing peaceful activities at first. However, [the Interior Ministry] says they recruited young men, so that's why all activities of Ansar al Shariah were banned," said Yusra Ghannouchi, an Ennahda spokeswoman.
Ms. Ghannouchi said Tunisia's radicalization problems happened after the 2011 revolution when mosques fell into extremists' hands. "Everything is blamed on Ennahda, but we should talk about the whole government's [performance]."
But Ennahda has had trouble getting party members to back the terror designation.
"Under Western pressure, the government has labeled Ansar al Shariah a terrorist organization," said Habib al Lawz, a prominent Ennahda parliamentarian, who doesn't support the designation. But "if young Tunisians feel that they are oppressed, they'll just go to the training camps of Libya."
Mr. Al Lawz was accused of encouraging young Tunisian jihadists, telling a newspaper this year that "If I were younger, I would have gone to fight in Syria." He said the remarks were taken out of context.
After the country's revolution, many of the country's roughly 5,000 government mosques—which were tightly controlled under the dictatorship of Zine el Abidine bin Ali —fell into Ansar al Shariah's hands. Today, just 50 or so mosques remain out of government control, said Minister of Religious Affairs Nourredine Khadmi.
Before his ministerial appointment, Mr. Khadmi was a firebrand preacher at a mosque in downtown Tunis, accused by critics and secular opponents of encouraging Tunisians to fight in Syria.
In an interview, the minister said he never encouraged jihad.
"There's no clear political decision to fight terrorism by the government," said Montassar Materi, who represents Tunisia's unionized security forces.
"There are charities and mosques that have exploited the existence of Ennahda in power to recruit young Tunisians. Even Ennahda members admit openly their support for jihadists in Syria," said Montassar Materi, who represents Tunisia's unionized security forces.
Mr. Materi said the union in May gave the government a 10-point antiterrorism plan that included cracking down on the flow of jihadists to Syria, but said he never got a response. The Ministry of Interior didn't respond to requests for comment.
But for fathers who have lost sons to Syria's war, Mr. Khadmi symbolizes the government's unwillingness to crack down on jihadist recruiters.
In September, Sheik Bilal Sawaysh was given a three-month suspended sentence amid complaints from parents the preacher had radicalized their sons and sent them to fight in Syria. He couldn't be reached for comment.
For Toufic, the father of one jihadist he said Mr. Sawaysh recruited, the sheik got off too lightly. He said his son, Mohammed, was a top student finishing his master's degree in finance, but failed to show up for an exam in January. A few days later, he said, he received a text message from his son that read, "I'm in Syria performing my jihadist duties."
The rare times Mohammed called, the family pleaded with him to return, to no avail.
On Aug. 30, news of his son's death came just as it did to announce his arrival, via text message. "Mohammed is a martyr," read the message from a person who said he fought alongside Mohammed.
Toufic's son is buried in an unmarked grave in northern Syria.
This summer, Toufic and the father of another jihadist fighting in Syria pleaded with Rached Ghannouchi, Ennahda's leader, to clamp down on the jihadist network in the mosques, both fathers said in interviews.
"Ghannouchi said, 'When your son dies, 70 people will go with him to paradise,' " Toufic recalled, a common belief among jihadists that if they are martyred they can chose who enters heaven with them.
Mr. Ghannouchi's office denied the conversation took place or that the Ennahda leader would ever support jihad in Syria.
"I replied, 'Why don't leaders of Ennahda send your own sons then?' " Toufic said, at which point he said Mr. Ghannouchi's security told the men to leave.