A serious question that must be asked: Is Turkey facilitating ISIS members travel to Libya, where they then attack Tunisia?
Translated today by our Mideastwire.com below. If we believe that extremist Tunisians and others are “returning” or moving to Libya as a staging ground for attacks in this region and in Tunisia specifically, then the likely ways they are coming back from the Syria-Iraq theatre is via Turkey and their air routes or via ships from Turkey, or possibly rebel controlled Syrian shores (where Turkey also a plays a huge role).
This represents a major maritime security issue for the EU, the US and regional states, especially Tunisia. And it should, if there is tacit acceptance or even coordination with Turkey-Isis et al., raise a major problem for NATO and others.
This report on ISIS’s “famed” Al-Batar battalion should raise major red flags for all of those concerned with Tunisia’s security in this next stage – and of course Libya’s security.
Ask yourself: How are all these hundreds, possibly thousands, of fighters (many of them “returning Tunisians” it seems) flowing into Libya? They aren’t flying out of Jordan, crossing Israel and Egypt… or passing through Iraq into Saudi Arabia (well it is unlikely). Iran isn’t helping and Lebanon is very unlikely to be a main route.
On March 9, the independent, leftist As-Safir daily newspaper carried the following report: “It was established in Syria to constitute an icon of brutality. It was appointed to the dirty jobs that even some of the radicals would not do. Myth-like stories were weaved around its strength, organization, and unlimited bloody actions, seemingly an attempt to use it as a tool for psychological war even before the military war. This is the Al-Batar battalion, also known as the “barefoot battalion” because its members who come from the depth of the desert refused to put any shoes on. Some believe that this is an expression of how harsh these people are and their ability to put up with the difficult weather conditions during the battles.
“Today, the name of the Al-Batar battalion has emerged not in Syria nor Iraq but rather as the group that planned, led, and implemented the attack on the city of Ben Guredane in the Tunisian South… Media sources close to ISIL indicated that Al-Batar battalion constitute the spearhead in the attack although the group [i.e. ISIL] has so far not claimed responsibility for the attack… When it was first established, the battalion work was focused on Rif Latakia. However, ever since it pledged allegiance to the ISIL organization by mid-2013, it started to move across the different governorates depending on the missions. Its fighters played an important part in the battles of the eastern region between ISIL, An-Nusra Front and Ahrar al-Sham…
“This battalion also played different roles in the battles of Iraq. It participated in the battle of Baiji and suffered massive losses as a result… The attack in Ben Guredane is not the first operation to be implemented by this battalion in Tunisia since it has previously been officially accused on planning and implementing several terrorist operations mainly the Soussa and Bardo Museum attacks… The previous investigations confirmed that Yassin al-Eyari and Jaber al-Khenshawi, the two men who implemented the Bardo attacks, and Seifeddine al-Rezki, the man who carried out the Soussa attack, belong to this battalion…
“The security services also aborted several operations that this battalion was planning on carrying out in Tunisia based on the confessions of the captured members. The touristic facilities were on the top list of the targets that this group was planning on attacking. Al-Moaz Ben Abdulqader Ben Ahmad al-Fazani (a Tunisian national born in 1969) is the commander of the Al-Batar battalion in Sabratha, Libya…”