Tunisia Attack Comes After Repeated Calls by IS for Violence in the Country
The Islamic State (IS) claimed credit for the raid on the Bardo Museum in the Tunisian capital, Tunis, and warned that the attack is the "first drop of the rain." The group identified the attackers as Abu Zakaria al-Tunisi and Abu Anas al-Tunisi.
The message warned:
We tell the apostates who sit on the chest of Muslim Tunisia: Wait for the glad tidings of what will harm you, o impure ones, for what you have seen today is the first drop of the rain, Allah permitting. You will not enjoy security nor be pleased with peace while the Islamic State has men like these who do not sleep amidst grievances.
Tunisian officials reportedly stated that the two killed attackers had no known links to terror groups.
"Though ISIS claimed responsibility, it didn't provide any proof of its ties to the attack in Tunisia," stated SITE Director Rita Katz. "However, if the group is indeed responsible, which is likely the case, it will raise serious concerns over the Tunisian government's intel."
Katz continued, "While Tunisia was at the vanguard of the Arab Spring and the one country to sustain stability during the revolution, it is also among the highest contributors to foreign fighters in Syria. Tunisians are even included in the Islamic State's leadership."
The following chart quantifies various countries' citizens leaving to fight in Syria as reported by their respective governments:
"Regardless of whether the Islamic State is or is not behind the Bardo Museum attack," stated Katz, "the threat of the group in Tunisia is great, and increasing with every passing day."
The death toll of the attack has now been raised to 23.
Islamic State (IS)-linked accounts on social media have begun expressing joy following the March 17 attack on Bardo Museum in Tunisia’s capital, wherein two armed men reportedly killed at least 19 people and took several hostages. The attack comes after various releases in recent months by IS and its supporters aimed at recruiting Tunisians and inciting attacks.
“If this attack was carried out by the Islamic State, it didn’t come from out of nowhere,” said SITE Director Rita Katz. “Islamic State officials, supporters, and fighters have been urging for an attack in Tunisia in the group’s name for a while now.”
On March 15, IS released a video of a fighter in Raqqa providing advice to fighters in Boko Haram and then stated that Tunisian jihadists should follow in the group’s footsteps:
Here, let me not to forget to urge our brothers in Tunisia, saying to them: O my brothers in Allah, O brothers in religion and doctrine in Tunisia, what are you waiting for? What are you waiting for while your brothers are racing one another every day and announcing their pledge to this blessed State? You shall announce it loud and join your brothers.
On the same day, jihadi media group Afriqiyah Media responded with a message attributed to “Jund al-Khilafah in Tunisia,” the same alleged group attributed to a December 2014 audio recording of a pledge to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The March 15 message stated in part:
Wait for the glad tidings of what will bring you joy and bring joy to the Muslims in general, soon.
The next day, Afriqiyah Media released a statement that Tunisian rapper “Emino” (AKA Marwen Duiri) had joined IS in a message released on Twitter. The statement claimed:
No one forced him to do this, and no one brainwashed him, as the foolish claim. He did not let the hypocrites and disbelievers tamper with his mind and distort his doctrine. By himself he searched the same as hundreds of thousands of mankind, then he discovered the truth and held to it.
The message also stated:
He became ascetic with celebrity and money, and he chose the path of the strangers. He left the paradise of the disbelievers and sought the paradise of the righteous Muslims.
“While we do not yet know who carried out the attack,” said Katz, “Islamic State supporters celebrating the attack have expressed less-than-subtle implications that their group was involved.”
Social media accounts of IS supporters and fighters have echoed such implications of IS involvement in the attacks. On March 18, 2015, one IS-linked account tweeted in Arabic:
Allah permitting, there will be earthshaking surprises in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya during these days….
We are coming O Rome
The user also included a hashtag translating to “#Invasion_ofTunisia” in the message, which was tweeted nearly 6,000 times in the first few hours of its creation.
Another IS-linked account tweeted:
From Tikrit to Tunisia to Copenhagen
You will not be enjoying the security unless you pay the Jizyah [religious tax] and get out of our lands from mountains of China throughout Andalusia.
The same account followed up by threatening the government with a “wedding party to hell.”
One pro-IS account tweeted bluntly:
the Lions of Tunisia have awoken alhamdulillah [praise be to God]
Accounts of IS fighters and supporters have also begun disseminating a December 2014 video urging Tunisian Muslims to pledge to Baghdadi and perform attacks. Titled “A Message to the People of Tunisia,” the video called for Muslims to “revive the tradition of assassination in Tunisia” and invoked Kamel al-Gathgathi and Lutfi al-Zayn, the killers of Tunisian politicians Chokri Belaid and Mohamed Brahmi.