March 18, 2015 | Quote

Militants Kill 17 Tourists In Tunis Museum

Two Islamist militants opened fire in the Bardo National Museum in Tunisia’s capital city, killing 19, according to Tunisian Prime Minister Habib Essid.

Victims include 17 foreign tourists, one Tunisian and one police officer. Polish, Italian, German and Spanish tourists were among the dead, according to Agence France-Presse.

Tunisia is a tourism-oriented country with a number of soft targets, says Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

“It’s uniquely vulnerable to jihadist attacks,” said Gartenstein-Ross.

Regional competition between al-Qaida and the Islamic State might have stoked the attack, he said. Boko Haram, an Islamist militant group in Nigeria, declared allegiance to the Islamic State recently.

In Tunisia’s jihadi circles, ”al-Qaida has pull at the leadership level, but ISIS is having a greater pull at foot soldier level,” said Gartenstein-Ross.

The jihadi perpetrators, although yet unnamed, may have intended for the Tunisian security services to expand in this area in order for them to gain ground in western and southern parts of the country.

After the Tunisian revolution in 2011, Salafi jihadis were able to openly proselytize in Tunisia, says Gartenstein-Ross. They began targeting the state, activities reaching their apex in 2013. After an attack against soldiers in the western part of the country, followed by the murder of secular politicians, the Tunisian government cracked down.

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