Jihad Intel: Vital Intelligence on Designated Islamic Terrorist Organizations

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Database: Identifiers of Designated Islamic Terrorist Organizations

Ansar al-Sharia (Tunisia)

Designated as terrorist by: United Kingdom, United States

Base of operations: Tunisia, Libya

Background: U.S. Department of State
Background: Shabab al-Tawhid: The Rebranding of Ansar al-Sharia in Tunisia?

A jihadi social movement founded in 2011 by former prisoners of Ben Ali's ousted regime, Ansar al-Sharia aimed to expand its influence in Tunisia through outreach but was also widely accused of intimidation towards politicians and journalists opposed to its agenda, with the Tunisian government accusing the group of being behind the assassinations of prominent opposition politicians Mohamed Brahmi and Chokri Belaid in July and February 2013, respectively. While the Islamist Ennahda-led government had at first seemingly tolerated the group in so far as it did not pose a perceived threat to Ennahda's power, tensions escalated such that a de facto total ban was placed on Ansar al-Sharia by August 2013, with many members subsequently relocating to Libya. Ansar al-Sharia is notable for having come out firmly in support of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant when the dispute broke out with Jabhat al-Nusra and al-Qaeda central in 2013, and likely indicative of this trend is the disproportionate representation of Tunisian fighters within the Islamic State's ranks, even as no formal pledge of allegiance was given by Ansar al-Sharia.

More recent evidence indicates an ambiguous official stance despite pro-Islamic State sentiments among rank and file who have gone to the Syria-Iraq arena. In July 2014, Ansar al-Sharia--Tunisia advertised photos of an operation by AQIM-linked Katiba Uqba ibn Nafi (named after a Muslim general of the Umayyad period who spearheaded the conquests of the Maghreb area) that killed 14 Tunisian soldiers and wounded 20. Further, the group's 2014 Eid al-Fitr message offered support to Zawahiri and Baghdadi.

There is the possibility that Ansar al-Sharia Tunisia has operated a front media outlet and network- Shabab al-Tawhid- run by underground members of Ansar al-Sharia Tunisia in Tunisia and exiles in Libya. This network has put out both pro-Islamic State and pro-Ansar al-Sharia Tunisia content.

Ansar al-Shari'a (Tunisia): Katiba Uqba ibn Nafi Emblem
Ansar al-Sharia (Tunisia) Emblems
Ansar al-Sharia (Tunisia) Flag
Ansar al-Sharia (Tunisia): "Dawn of Kairouan"
Ansar al-Sharia (Tunisia): Canadian Support
Ansar al-Sharia (Tunisia): Children Support
Ansar al-Sharia (Tunisia): Katiba Uqba ibn Nafi
Ansar al-Sharia (Tunisia): Katiba Uqba ibn Nafi
Ansar al-Sharia (Tunisia): Media Emblem
Ansar al-Sharia (Tunisia): Shabab al-Tawhid
Black Flag of Jihad (Sacred Seal Version)
Land of Islam- Sacred Seal Version

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