Libya: Algeria and Tunisia tighten anti-ISIS security

Concerns of contagion in neighboring countries

16 February, 18:30

    Tunisian counter-terrorism army soldeirs Tunisian counter-terrorism army soldeirs

    (by Diego Minuti) (ANSAmed) - ROME - The situation in Libya is giving rise to concerns in neighboring nations of the impact that an Islamic State (ISIS) presence in the region may have. Having to deal with ISIS's predominantly media-centered offensive are especially Tunisia and Algeria, both along Libya's western border and which have long been struggling against homegrown Islamist groups. While the concerns are more or less the same, the situations are very different. Since the brutal 1990s civil war in Algeria, Islamist groups have been operating especially in the southern part of the country in remote, sparsely inhabited areas as well as forests and highlands and have faced an army with few qualms about how they are to be dealt with. In Tunisia, jihadist groups (initially affiliated with Salafis and later with the more extremist 'takfiris') are less organized but seeking greater influence and leadership. Many have reportedly headed to Libya in recent days to put their weapons at the disposal of the local ISIS affiliates. The interior ministry's secretary of state for national security has said that about 500 ISIS combatants have returned to the country. Algeria has long been laboriously tightening its borders - which in the current situation means preventing foreign terrorists from coming into the country as well as Algerian fighters from leaving to join other extremists and possibly create an uncontrollable pocket of fundamentalism in danger of spreading.

    The Libyan-Algerian border is sealed and terrorist groups (that for the moment consider as their leader Sheikh Droukdel, who has links to Al-Qaeda) are still a problem, but one that can be managed and kept under control without the fear of external contagion. The problem is not underestimated, and the border with Libyan is - along with that of Algiers - the area under the tightest control and heaviest militarization. The growth of ISIS's presence in Libya continues nonetheless to concern the governments in Tunis and Algiers.

    (ANSAmed).

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