By Hazem al-Ameen
(Translated from Arabic by Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi, New Age Islam)
October 28, 2013
Syrian Jihad represents one of the most important forms of political divide in Tunisia. The state known as “the fount of Arab Spring” is the nation that dispatches today the largest number of jihadist fighters to Syria. There are not only hundreds but thousands of families in the capital and in remote southern and central villages, whose young men have left for Jihad in Syria. Most of the people you would come across in Tunisia have relatives, acquaintances or neighbours who have gone to northern Syria via Turkey.
Here is the story of Aiman. It does not begin when he sends his family an SMS using his Tunisian Cellphone, typing in Latin letters: "I am in Libya, looking for a job. I'll talk to you later." Nor does his story end when he sends them a second SMS from Syria that reads: " Assalam u Alaikum (Peace be upon you) ... How are you all? Thank God, I've arrived in Syria and I am doing well, living in bliss and pride. As the Messenger of God said, “Jihad is one of the doors to heaven that displaces concern and worries.” I'll talk to you soon. If you want to know how I'm doing, follow ISIS's news releases. Don't believe the false and hypocritical media outlets."
Aiman’s brother says he doubts whether it was who Aiman typed the second SMS, as its language does not resemble the way he used to talk to his family. His brother thinks that Aiman’s phone may have been in the possession of the Tunisian Salafists. He also states that though his young brother began to show the signs of religiosity in 2009, he did not turn into a hardcore religious man until after the revolution.
Ayman aged 26 was the youngest of his eight siblings. He studied economics and worked as an importer for a short time. In the past days, he did not exhibit signs of religiosity, except for offering Salah (prayer) and a normal relationship with his local mosque. This did not annoy his traditionally religious family at all. His brothers and sisters fast during the holy month of Ramadan pray and the women wear the traditional headscarf. But suddenly, after the revolution, the young Aiman began to change. He became a Salafi. He grew a beard and wore a "religious" robe. He began spending most of his time in watching Al Jazira channel and became glued to the cyber world. He avoided speaking to his older brothers and only talked briefly to his mother. He also spoke sometimes with his young sister and pushed her to wear a full facial veil. Ayman's house is located near the Al-Iman Mosque in the city of Tabalba, where the Salafists forcibly removed the mosque's Imam, who was a moderate Alim and a graduate of Zitouna University, and replaced him with a Salafist Imam, who was a taxi driver before the revolution and transformed into an Imam by the Salafist leader Abdulrahman al-Maroui.
In the wake of Aiman’s disappearance, his father lodged a complaint. It read: “My son Aiman Bin Umar Nabili is associated with a group of young Salafists. They are terrorists who carry out their operations from the Al-Iman Mosque located in Tabalba and the Fatima al-Zahra Mosque in Sahloul. They have an interconnected network of the activists that have seized these two mosques for their terroristic operations. All this is going on under the supervision of a Salafist leader, Abdul Rahman Mohammed al-Maroui, who recruits the youths, brainwashes them and sends them to their centre in Benghazi, Libya. Then, these youths are trained and indoctrinated and are sent to Syria. These Salafists have been preventing casual Musallin (worshippers) from entering the mosque since they seized it. My son Ayman is not the only one; there are many more youngsters hailing from Tabalba and other cities. It should also be noted that two other families also lodged complaints against the Salafist leader Maroui, accusing him of recruiting their sons and sending them to Syria."
Aiman’s family went straight to the nearest police station on the very day they received the SMS from their son. The officer at the station promised them he would give them a call back, but he never did. Aiman’s older brother called the police back, but he said that the case had been moved to the anti-terrorism team. Then, the family went personally to the central police department and requested an investigation. Nobody paid heed to their appeal. They then submitted a petition to the prosecutor of the republic at the Court of First Instance against the Salafi imam of the mosque, Abdul Rahman al-Maroui, along with two other families whose members had been sent to Jihad in Syria. The prosecutor replied that he requested the police to investigate about Maroui, but Maroui did not respond to the summons.
Throughout the first Ennahda government, led by Hamadi al-Jabali from December 2011 until February 2013, jihadist attacks in Syria were carried out by the young men from their Salafist mosques right under the noses of Ennahda. Turkish Airlines flights from Tunis to Istanbul transported Salafists embarking on jihad in the same way. During the flights, they sang their anthems and gave sermons. Mohammed al-Jalassi, who took a flight to Istanbul during that period, said that during the flight, jihadists abstained from proudly sharing the stories of their trip.
In the suburbs of Tunisia, particularly in Tadammon and Dawr Hayshir, Ennahda group won the elections and sent out jihadist-Salafist sheikhs who had just been released from prison. These Salafist sheikhs established a quasi-emirate there, edging out the police and imposing what has been called the “Salafist police.” It is these Ennahda regions where the trend of leaving for jihad in Syria started. This was facilitated by Ennahda weakening the state institutions inherited from Ben Ali. Ennahda makes up for this weakness through its political presence as well as its presence in the jihadist-Salafist mosques where the Imamat (theological leadership) was transformed to the Salafists.
URL for the Arabic article: http://www.newageislam.com/arabic-section/hazem-al-ameen-حازم-الأمين/this-is-how-salafists-transform-the-innocent-muslim-youth-into-dangerous-jihadis--الطريق-إلی-الجهاد-في-سورية-التي-عبّدها-السلفية-الجهادية/d/14203