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Official documents prepared by the US government and the United Nations show that Hassine has long operated as a part of the al Qaeda network.
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Al Qaeda Ally Orchestrated Assault
on US Embassy in Tunisia

LongWarJournal.org
On Sept. 14, the US embassy in Tunis came under assault. The American staff evacuated the embassy unscathed, but the attackers hoisted an al Qaeda-style black flag high above the emptied compound and ransacked American property.

The embassy siege eventually led to a tense standoff at the El Fateh mosque in Tunis, after the man suspected of leading the embassy attack gave a rousing speech to his followers inside. That man is Seifallah ben Hassine, otherwise known as Abu Iyad al Tunisi.

Hassine has long worked with and for al Qaeda. After fleeing Tunisia in the 1990s, Hassine ended up in the UK, where he studied under Abu Qatada, a well-known al Qaeda cleric. Like so many other international jihadists, Hassine made his way to the Taliban's Afghanistan, weaving a web of connections to nefarious actors across the globe.

Hassine has not denied his longstanding relationship with al Qaeda, according to press accounts.

Today, Hassine leads Ansar al Sharia Tunisia, a radical Salafist group with at least hundreds of followers. The group's muscle is enough to challenge the Tunisian government's authority. Even though the El Fateh mosque was surrounded by government personnel, dozens of Hassine loyalists escorted him out of the building.

Hassine evaded capture and remains at large.

The rise of Ansar al Sharia Tunisia, as well as groups with the same brand name in other countries, presents a new challenge to the US and its allies. In other countries, such as Yemen, the ties between the Ansar al Sharia chapter and al Qaeda are clear. The emir of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is Nasir al Wuhayshi, who also heads Ansar al Sharia Yemen.

There are multiple groups operating under the Ansar al Sharia brand in Libya, including a militia that is suspected of launching the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi on Sept. 11. The Ansar al Sharia militia has known ties to al Qaeda, including al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Members of AQIM were reportedly in contact with the Ansar al Sharia militia during the consulate assault. And the Ansar al Sharia militia is headed by Sufyan Ben Qumu, an ex-Guantanamo detainee who has been identified as an al Qaeda operative.

Like other Ansar al Sharia chapters elsewhere, there are good reasons to suspect that Hassine's group in Tunisia remains connected to al Qaeda.

Official documents prepared by the US government and the United Nations show that Hassine has long operated as a part of the al Qaeda network. Leaked documents prepared by Joint Task Force Guantanamo (JTF-GTMO) shed additional light on Hassine and other TCG members, highlighting their extensive connections to al Qaeda.

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Editor's Note: Yeah, al Qaeda is on the run and/or diminished...maybe on the Cartoon Network...


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