News ID: 174793
Published: 0731 GMT December 30, 2016

Tunisian PM: Terrorists to be dealt with under anti-terrorism law

Tunisian PM: Terrorists to be dealt with under anti-terrorism law

Returning Tunisian terrorists will be immediately arrested and judged under law, the prime minister said, seeking to calm fears over the homecoming of some of the country's several thousand terrorists.

Tunisia is among the countries with the highest per capita number of terrorists, a problem linked to widespread radicalization among disillusioned youth and a loosening of security controls after Tunisia's 2011 uprising, according to Reuters’ report on Friday.

More than 3,000 Tunisians are known to have traveled abroad to fight for terror groups like Daesh in Syria, Iraq and Libya, according to the Interior Ministry. Last week, the interior minister said 800 had already come back to Tunisia, without giving details on what had happened after their return.

Prime Minister Youssef Chahed said returnees would be dealt with according to a 2015 antiterrorism law that is designed to ease the arrest and prosecution of suspected terrorists.

"Those who come back will be arrested immediately after their arrival on Tunisian soil and will be judged under the antiterrorism law," Chahed told state TV.

He also said authorities had comprehensive records on terrorists who had left the country. "We have all the details on them, we know them one by one, and we have taken all the necessary measures," he said.

The comments by Chahed, a member of the secularist Nidaa Tounes party, came amid a fierce political debate over how to deal with foreign terrorists.

Some secularist politicians have called for them to be stripped of their nationality, though the right to citizenship is protected under the constitution.

Politicians from the Islamic party Ennahda, part of the governing coalition, have said Tunisia is still responsible for returning terrorists and that the government cannot prevent them from coming back.

The debate intensified after a deadly Christmas market attack in Berlin believed to have been carried out by a Tunisian, Anis Amri, whom Italy and Germany had earlier failed to deport.

It has also been fueled by military setbacks for Daesh in neighboring Libya and in Iraq, with the expectation that Tunisians fighting with the group will start to return in larger numbers.

Tunisia's antiterrorism law was passed last year in the wake of two major attacks against foreign tourists by Daesh gunmen, the first at the Bardo museum in Tunis, and the second on a beach in the Tunisian city of Sousse.


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