The Islamic State and Tunisia's Bardo Museum Attack
On March 18, 2015, the entire world was shocked by another
terrorist attack by the Islamic State. This time they attacked in Tunisia's
capital Tunis. The attacks targeted Western tourists. After a day of utter
chaos it became clear that in the attack on the Bardo National Museum 23 people
got killed, most of them European tourists.
As such, an attack on European tourists didn't really come as a surprise after
a statement of the Islamic State's spokesman al-Adnānī, published in September
2014. What is remarkable though is the location where they were attacked.
Tunisia was the first country where the so-called Arab spring hit; the day
Muhammad Bouazizi (December 17, 2010) set himself alight, the spark soon spread
throughout North-Africa and the Middle East. After a swift removal of president
Ben Ali, it seemed Tunisia was heading for some way of reform. Although
Islamist factions tried gaining ground, some reason kicked in. In the recent
elections of October 2014 one could say moderates and democrats gained ground.
Then again, Tunisia has had about 3.000 of its nationals fighting in either
Syria or Iraq, a lot of them in the ranks of the Islamic State. It is estimated
that about 500 of them have returned home. One could expect security forces are
already overly occupied by monitoring those coming back, let alone keep an eye
on those who travel to neighboring Libya for training within IS affiliate
branches. Yet this is where the danger is; small, yet highly trained and
organized, sleeper cells that can hit anytime, anywhere.
A most remarkable detail regarding this attack, is that it was, indirectly,
announced two days before it actually happened. On March 16 I received a linked
tweet reading : ''Urgent. The Caliphate State will soon send you glad tidings
from Tunisia, if God wills it.'' At that time I thought it would be an obscure
claim of a pledge of allegiance from some smaller group. Yet when the attacks
were reported live on Twitter more similar tweets from March 16th turned up,
somehow announcing the attacks.
As expected a statement was released later claiming the attacks, plainly titled
''Claiming the Bardo Museum Operation in Islamic Tunisia''. There was no direct
link with any of the official IS media outlets, yet all the major IS Twitter
accounts supported and reinforced the message.
Here are the audio and text statements
بيان تبني عملية متحف باردو في تونس الإسلام
ففي غزوة مباركة يسّر الله أسبابها على أحد أوكار الكفر والرّذيلة في تونس
المسلمة، انطلق فارسان انغماسيان من فرسان دولة الخلافة، وهما (أبو زكريا
التونسي) و (أبو أنس التونسي) مدججين بأسلحتهما الرشاشة والقنابل اليدوية
مستهدفين متحف (باردو) الذي يقع ضمن المربع الأمني للبرلمان التونسي، فأدخل الله
الرعب في قلوب الكفار، وتمكن الأخوان من حصار مجموعة خبيثة من رعايا الدول
الصليبية الذين غرّهم المرتدّون فزينوا لهم أرض تونس لتكون مرتعاً لكفرهم
وفجورهم وقد أدت العملية الانغماسية المباركة لقتل وإصابة العشرات من الصليبيين
والمرتدّين، لم تجرؤ قوات