Tunisia to set up cells to combat Al-Qaeda threat

Updated 27 March 2013

Tunisia to set up cells to combat Al-Qaeda threat

TUNIS: Tunisia announced yesterday it was setting up crisis cells to combat “terrorist activity,” after the United States warned that Al-Qaeda was seeking to establish a base in the country.
“We have launched the creation of crisis cells to monitor terrorist activities on the border (with Libya and Algeria) and in the interior, faced with the rise of the militant movement and the existence of recruitment networks,” Interior Minister Lotfi Ben Jeddou told Parliament.
He said those cells would be under the control of Tunisia’s Supreme Security Council and would also gather information on networks enrolling young Tunisians to fight in Syria.
He was speaking after General Carter Ham, head of US Africa Command (Africom), warned during a brief visit of the growing threat to Tunisia posed by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the group’s north African franchise.
“It is very clear to me that Al-Qaeda intends to establish a presence in Tunisia,” he told Tunisian radio late on Tuesday, after meeting Ben Jeddou, Prime Minister Ali Larayedh and the army chief of staff.
Ham said he was “convinced the government is committed to doing everything it can to prevent AQIM... from gaining a foothold in Tunisia.”
The Tunisian government has warned in recent months of militants linked to the Al-Qaeda, infiltrating Tunisia’s borders and trafficking weapons, notably to northern Mali.


Saudi Arabia, other Middle East countries warn citizens after protests erupt in Lebanon

Updated 55 min 52 sec ago

Saudi Arabia, other Middle East countries warn citizens after protests erupt in Lebanon

  • Saudi Arabia and Egypt called on citizens to avoid protest areas
  • Kuwait’s embassy in Lebanon asked citizens wishing to travel to Lebanon to postpone their plans

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s embassy in Lebanon called on its citizens to avoid places where protests are taking place in the country on Friday. 

The Kingdom’s embassy in Beirut advised its nationals to take care and to “stay away from places of protest,” Al-Ekhbariya news channel reported. 

It also announced that the Lancaster Plaza Beirut hotel in the capital's Raouche neighborhood is a gathering point from which Saudi nationals can be transported to Beirut airport. 

Egypt’s embassy in the Lebanese capital Beirut also called on its nationals in the country to avoid protest areas, Egyptian state news agency MENA said.

“The embassy calls on all Egyptian citizens in Lebanon to avoid the areas of gatherings and protests, to be careful in their movements and to abide by the instructions of the Lebanese authorities in this regard,” MENA said.

Meanwhile, Kuwait’s embassy in Lebanon asked citizens wishing to travel to Lebanon to wait because of the current protests and unrest.

“The embassy also calls on citizens currently in Lebanon to take utmost care and stay away from crowds and demonstrations,” the embassy said in its tweet.

Protesters across Lebanon blocked roads with burning tires on Friday and thousands marched in Beirut, calling on the government to resign over an economic crisis.