In the Tunisian town of Zorda in Sidi Alouane and in a simple rural house, Mona Guebla, the suicide bomber who blew herself up last Monday in the Tunisian capital Tunis, lived and grew up with a family that consisted of five members.
The house does not indicate any extreme poverty as the family owns lands that they use for farming and breeding livestock.
The family also did not display any signs of extremism and close-mindedness as they seemed like a conservative and coherent family that lives a calm life in an area where the state has provided most of the basic services, such as power, internet, paved roads, educational institutions and a basic health center.
According to the parents’ account, last week, Mona left to the capital under the pretext of looking for a job, but later on her family heard the news that she blew herself up.
At first, they did not believe it, knowing their daughter had nothing to do with anything like this. However the police later arrived, took them to the security center and confiscated Mona’s belongings.
Tunisia suicide bomber mother (Screen grab)
In an exclusive interview with Al Arabiya English, Mona’s mother said that her daughter who has a teaching diploma in Business English left the house after three years of unemployment and headed to Sousse to try and find a job.
“She told me she will go to Sousse to get some documents to look for a job and rent a room to live there. I was so glad she made this move, and I agreed that she should go,” the mother said.
Mona’s life during unemployment was simple as she took care of her ill father and every now and then she helped the family with harvesting olives or grazing sheep and helped her mother take care of the house.
In a painful and tearful voice, the mother added: “She was spoiled in the house. We provided her with everything she needed while she was studying. We (worked hard) so our children have everything. We educated them to get their university degrees. We even sold a piece of land to buy her a computer four years ago so she can use it for studying and researching.”
The mother denied that Mona had extremist ideas, although she wore a headscarf and prayed since an early age unlike her siblings, adding that she wasn’t the talkative kind.
She also said that she did not notice any changes in Mona recently, and that during her sister’s wedding in summer, she was very involved and happy dancing and singing with everyone.
The grieving mother added that Mona’s outings or phone calls were not suspicious either, noting that Mona did not have friends in the area and she only left the house to go with her father to the hospital for regular checkups.
“My daughter uses the laptop and internet a lot like the rest of her generation does,” adding that she did not know the identities of those whom Mona communicated with and thought she was using the laptop to look for a job, the mother said.
“If I suspected anything about her, would I have let her leave the house?” the mother inquired and concluded that the only explanation to what Mona did is that she was deceived by unknown parties.
“I do not know how this happened, and who deceived her and who manipulated her mind. There were no motives to make her become like this and do what she did,” she said.
Mona’s tragic end has deeply shocked and saddened the entire extended family which never thought that Mona will become the world’s talk and will be described as a “terrorist or a suicide bomber.”
Her maternal aunt said she could not believe that her niece whom she described as an “angel” committed this atrocity and blew herself up and harmed others.
“I (still) cannot believe my niece did that. It’s impossible and it does not fit (her profile) as the sweet girl who cannot even hurt a fly” she said.
Her maternal uncle said he was extremely shocked and that he was in deep pain especially as he recalls his niece as a young child and her good morals.
Mona’s father said the end of his beloved daughter and the situation he’s in was “something that one will not even wish to his worst enemies.”
One of Mona’s relative said Mona may have changed recently as she was isolated from the world and avoided communicating with people and avoided going out as she would send the little children to the shop to buy what she needs for the house.
Another relative said that Mona never went to Tunis, as she finished her high school education in her hometown and her university education in Sousse, and he wondered which party encouraged her to go to the capital and do what she did. The relative also ruled out the assumption that she thought of or planned the terror attack herself.