institut tunisien des études stratégiques
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Assessing the Threat Posed by Tunisian Foreign Fighters

Assessing the Threat Posed by Tunisian Foreign Fighters

The 2011 Tunisian revolution precipitated high expectations regarding the alleviation of widespread poverty and unemployment, the expansion of political and socioeconomic rights, and the creation of other opportunities. But social and economic challenges have persisted, and in some cases, worsened in the post-revolutionary period, thus fuelling disillusionment with the revolution, weakening the already fragile relationship between the state and its citizens, and creating a fertile recruiting atmosphere for Salafi jihadist groups. These organizations have also capitalized on the permissive post-revolutionary environment. In the first years after the revolution, the Tunisian government gave broad leeway to Salafi jihadist groups like Ansar al-Sharia by allowing them to engage in dawa (religious proselytization) and provide social services to local communities. By the time the government cracked down on Ansar al-Sharia in 2013, the group had entrenched itself in local communities, propagated its worldview to thousands of Tunisian youth, and built a robust organizational structure that included extensive FF recruitment networks steering Tunisians to jihadist groups in Syria....

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