Tunisia’s fake jihadist and the war in Syria

Tunisia is a relatively faraway and small country and like the rest of the region’s countries, it is suffering from the effects of the Syrian war. It is not suffering as much as Jordan and Lebanon, but it is concerned about the recruitment of its youth as suicide bombers. It seems there are those who wish to halt the flow of Tunisian youth to jihadist groups in Syria, such people are attempting to intimidate people.

Last week, for example, a man who hid his face and called himself Abou Qusai appeared on a Tunisian TV channel. He claimed that he was a jihad fighter who returned from Syria after realizing it was not truly a dirty war not a holy war.

As it turned out, the man was a fake. He appeared on the show to urge Tunisians to prevent their sons from getting involved with terrorist groups. The message is good, but the means was wrong. There are dozens like Abu Qusai who have real experience and who can reflect the truth without forgery or exaggeration.

Fighting in Syria

There are currently two wars in Syria that are not linked to one another. The first one is the Syrians’ war against the regime and the second one is the extremists’ war against the people. the second is waged because women don’t wear the veil or because the people don’t pray on time or because they are Christians or Druze.

The Syrian people' war against the regime was launched because the latter is a suppressive body of authority that has been ruling them for 40 years. The regime represents the appalling, fascist, Baathist intellect. It is led by a gang which exploits its small sect to run the country.

Extremist groups consider fighting against civilized society as one of their priorities. They don’t care about people’s freedom or political aspirations

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

A country ruled by suppression will inevitably reach such a point. This is what happened in 2011, when Daraa’s people revolted after Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces tortured their children and threatened their lives and property. Mutiny against the regime spread across the republic and the Syrians’ war to get rid of the Assad regime continues.

The second appalling war is run by groups which call themselves jihadists. This war has nothing to do with the Syrian people’s demands or feelings; it does not take into account the Syrian people’s aspirations. Its agenda is aimed at establishing an extremist state like that of the al-Khawarij peoples who revolted against Caliphs Othman and Ali. They called themselves “the believers” and they accused rulers of infidelity and punished the public because it wasn’t “Muslim enough.”

Al-Qaeda's aim

When the extremist al-Qaeda fought in Iraq over the past few years, its aim wasn’t to expel the Americans or support one political regime against another. It first targeted the areas in which it secured a stronghold, like Fallujah, and tortured its people because they didn’t meet the criteria of religious extremism which al-Qaeda championed. Hideous graves and jails were later discovered in the areas the group used to control. Al-Qaeda is currently doing the same thing in areas it seized in north Syria. Residents of these areas are fighting it and they consider it as evil as the Assad regime.

Does convincing people to reject extremist organizations like the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and al-Nusra Front call for resorting to fake stories? Of course not. This is political and media stupidity because there are real people out there who were part of these groups and who defected from them in objection to their activities. One can resort to their testimonies without distorting what’s happening in Syria and without indirectly serving the Assad regime. The dispute with Islamist groups, including the Brotherhood, does not justify the act of confusing them for moderate national political and military groups.

The Syrians need someone who supports their just demands. They are not involved in the emergence of brutal extremist groups which were previously present in Tunisia, the Gulf, East Africa and Pakistan. These extremist groups consider fighting against civilized society as one of their priorities. They don’t care about people’s freedom or political aspirations. For example, the ISIS in Syria is more authoritarian than the Assad regime which is considered one of the region’s most brutal regimes.

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on March 20, 2014.


Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.


Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:42 - GMT 06:42
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.