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Middle East and Africa

‘Tunisian apostates: you will not have safety nor peace’

Impregnated with anti-Western rhetoric and full of references to sacred texts, the Isis public announcement after the terrorist attack at the Bardo allows one to enter the logic of terrorists, to understand the motive and their ultimate goal.

A few hours after the attack in Tunis Isis has claimed responsibility in a text, spread on all major jihadist websites, which has a strong symbolic value and which is worth analyzing into detail. Saturated with anti-Western rhetoric and contempt for the Tunisian Islamic model, the document proudly claims the hit performed on March 18th at the Bardo Museum, an action against “infidels and apostates” committed “in the name of God, the Clement, the Merciful”.



The quote of an emblematic Qur’anic verse taken from the Banishment sura follows the claim of responsibility as a guarantee of the holiness and the liceity of the attack – since, in the jihadist viewpoint, the success of the militants is always attributable to God: ‘And they thought their fortresses would protect them from Allah. But Allah came at them from whence they did not reckon and He cast terror into their hearts’ (59:2). The passage refers to a fact happened at the time of the Prophet of Islam, when Muhammad defeated and banished the Medina Jewish tribe of Banû Nadîr, guilty of joining forces with the enemy after initially forming an alliance with the Prophet. The Banû Nadîr, after taking shelter in their fortresses, were besieged and defeated after six months.


However, if read in the light of current events and in the context of the claim, this verse sounds like a warning, as if to remind people that God would keep his promise this time, too, that he would help the ‘true Muslims’, the bombers, to conquer nonbelievers, namely the tourists visiting the museum, sure to be in safe places – in “fortresses” protected by safety – and unaware of what was about to happen.


A widespread habit in all Islamist and jihadist environments is that of extrapolating ad hoc verses from the Qu’ran on the basis of the need of the moment, a useful move for the sake of propaganda, to justify and hallow the projects of the Caliphate, the accusations of apostasy and disbelief or, as in this case, mean terrorist acts.



The ‘blessed by God, lord of the worlds’ attack is presented in their public announcement as the deed of two ‘knights of the Islamic State’, called by their battle names, against the ‘subjects of the crusader States’, namely the tourists, and the apostates, the Tunisians – and especially the tour guides accused of offering a distorted view of Tunisia as a dissolute and immoral State, where Western ‘impiety and immorality’ easily take root: ‘God rejoices in the blessed attack directed to one of the dens of infidelity and vice in Muslim Tunisia. The two knights of the state of the caliphate, Abû Zakariyâ al-Tûnisî and Abû Anas al-Tûnisî, left with all their weapons, with machine guns and hand grenades and headed to the museum (Bardo), located in the safety square of the Tunisian Parliament. Then God raised terror in the hearts of the nonbelievers and the brothers were able to besiege a group of wicked subjects of the crusader States, people misled by the apostates who depicted their Tunisian land as fertile ground for their impiety and immorality’.



The target, the public announcement coldly follows, has been reached, and the authors call upon God to thrust open the paradise doors to the two suicide ‘heroes’ and to allow them to dwell there in the highest levels that, according to the Islamic tradition, are designed for those who reached the highest levels of perfection during earthly life and died in battle: ‘The blessed suicidal operation resulted in the killing and the wounding of dozens of crusaders and apostates, and the disastrous security forces have not dared to come close until after the two heroes had run out of munitions. We ask God to welcome the two heroes among the martyrs, to offer them the highest paradise in the Garden, and to unite us to them’.


It is thus clear that the jihadist rhetoric not only does not consider remorse, but in fact glorifies violence by turning it into the means for the hallowing of the ‘martyrs’.



The rhetoric of the Islamic State also makes a distinction between the pure and the impure. Pure is he who faithfully adheres to the ‘orthodoxy’ imposed by the caliphate, impure is he who supports other political and cultural models. The impure are, for example, the Tunisian citizens who live in a State ruled by the secular Nida’ Tunis party and who boycott the project of the caliphate. And it is to these ‘apostates’ that the last dreadful warning of the claim of responsibility is directed: ‘To the apostates hidden in the heart of Muslim Tunisia we say: oh impure people, rejoice in what afflicts you. Be this the will of God, what you have seen today is just the first raindrop. You will have neither safety nor peace. There are many people like those ones in the Islamic State, people who do not forget insults. God is the greatest’.



Mythomaniacs and visionaries, the Don Quixotes of the Islamic State have remained trapped in the Golden Age myth they are legitimating, and in the contempt for the West. But if the enemies Don Quixote was fighting against were windmills, the in the flesh victims of the jihadist delirium are tourists mistaken for crusaders and Tunisian citizens whose apostasy consists in accompanying a few retirees in visiting a museum.