This week, there were two different incidents wherein the Tunisian National Guard took down four Tunisian jihadis. The first occurred on Wednesday May 1 in Jabal Chambi in Kassserine Governorate when it arrested Katibat ‘Uqbah Bin Nafi member Ra’id Bin ‘Iz al-Din Bin al-Az’ar Tawati. Based on interviews with him after his arrest, the Tunisian government claims that it helped thwart forthcoming attacks that would have happened during Ramadan. The nature of these attacks (against civilian versus the security sector) is indiscernible based on reporting. However, KUBN’s track record suggests it would likely have been against members of Tunisia’s security forces.
The second incident happened yesterday, Saturday May 4 in Sidi Ali Ben Aoun, a town 25 miles southwest of Sidi Bouzid. It was a preventative action by the National Guard, which led to the killing of three Islamic State members: Muhammad Bin Ibrahim Bin Salih al-Basduri, Hatim Bin al-‘Id Bin Muhammad Basduri, and Muntasar Bin Kharif Bin Muhammad Jaridi Ghuzlani. Following their deaths, the National Guard recovered two Kalashnikovs, a “Steyr” firearm, a homemade grenade, and an explosive belt. Tunisian security would also later arrest a forest ranger this morning since the truck used by the three jihadis last night belonged to him.
So who are these four individuals specifically and what have they been up to with KUBN and IS over the years?
Ra’id Bin ‘Iz al-Din Bin al-Az’ar Tawati (Khatab al-Tunisi)
Tawati was born in Jendouba on September 1, 1994, meaning he was 24 years-old when arrested earlier this week. He grew up in al-Fardaws neighborhood of the city. He originally joined KUBN in late 2014. He went on Tunisia’s wanted list first on November 19, 2014, which was later reposted on April 13, 2017. He would also eventually be financially sanctioned by the Tunisian government on December 24, 2018. He was involved in the following attacks alongside other KUBN members:
- December 2014: Beheading of National Guardsmen Hasan Sultani in Warghah in Kef Governorate
- 2015: Killed two soldiers in Jabal Sidi al-Harith in Kef Governorate
- 2015: Killed the resident Sami al-‘Uyari in Jabal Sidi al-Harith in Kef Governorate
- August 23, 2015: Killed a Tunisian border guard in Bou Chebka in Kasserine Governorate
- March 30, 2016: Targeted Tunisian border guards in Bou Cheba in Kasserine Governorate
- June 23, 2016: Killed the resident Lamjad al-Qariri in Jabal Chambi in Kasserine Governorate
- July 8, 2018: Targeting National Guardsman in the area of al-Shahid in Jendouba
- He also took part in looting peoples homes for supplies and helped with laying landmines in various locales
Muhammad Bin Ibrahim Bin Salih al-Basduri (Hamud al-Tunisi)
Al-Basduri was born in Sidi Ali Ben Aoun on July 2, 1984, meaning he was 34 when killed. He originally joined KUBN in 2013 before defecting and joining up with IS in late 2014. He was placed on Tunisia’s wanted list on November 19, 2014 and his notice was later reposted on July 24, 2015, September 11, 2015, and September 14, 2015. According to the second notice, al-Basduri was a suspect in the planning of the Bardo and Sousse attacks. He would also eventually be financially sanctioned by the Tunisian government on November 9, 2018. Prior to his death he was part of IS’s Sarayah Samamah, meaning he was likely mostly based at Jabal Samamah. He was involved in the following attacks alongside other KUBN (2013-2014) and IS members (2015-present):
- October 23, 2013: Attack in Sidi Ben Ali in Sidi Bouzid Governorate in which 6 officers and members of the National Guard were killed and 6 were injured.
- July 16, 2014: Hinsir Hill 2 attack that left 15 military members killed
- May 24, 2014: Attack on the Home of former Minister of the Interior Lutfi Bin Jiddu in Kasserine City
- April 7, 2015: An ambush targeting a military formation at Jabal al-Maghilah in Kasserine Governorate, which led to the death 5 in the ranks of the military and injuring others
- November 15, 2015: An ambush targeting a military formation at Jabal al-Maghilah in Kasserine Governorate leading to the death and injury of those in the ranks of the military units
- Ramdan 2016 (June 6-July 5, 2016): Targeting military formations in Jabal Samamah in Kasserine Governorate-
- Raiding houses adjacent to the Kasserine Mountains and taking residents’ supplies and laying landmines that targeted the security and military units
Hatim Bin al-‘Id Bin Muhammad Basduri (al-Nu’aman al-Tunisi)
Hatim is the older brother of Muhammad and was also born in Sidi Ali Ben Aoun on November 22, 1979, meaning he was 39 when killed. Similar to his brother, he originally joined KUBN in 2013 before defecting and joining up with IS in late 2014. However, he was only added to Tunisia’s wanted list on January 5, 2018, which was later reposted on August 2, 2018. This could suggest that although he was older, he played a lesser role within KUBN and later IS than his brother and only came to more prominence within IS in particular later. Like his brother, he was financially sanctioned by the Tunisian government on November 9, 2018. Prior to his death he was part of IS’s Sarayah al-Sallum, meaning he was likely mostly based at Jabal al-Sallum. He was involved in the same attacks as his brother while both were in KUBN and later IS as detailed above.
Muntasar Bin Kharif Bin Muhammad Jaridi Ghuzlani (‘Umar al-Tunisi)
Ghuzlani was from al-Thamad area of Sbiba region in Kasserine Governorate and born on January 16, 1988, meaning when he was killed he was 31. He originally joined IS in late 2014. He was never placed on Tunisia’s most wanted list, suggesting he was just a foot soldier and likely did not have a leadership position. However, he was placed on Tunisia’s financial sanction list on December 24, 2018, so he was not completely irrelevant. Prior to his death he was part of IS’s Sarayah al-Maghilah, meaning he was likely mostly based at Jabal al-Maghilah. He was involved in the following attacks alongside other IS members:
- November 5, 2016: Killing his cousin and Tunisian soldier Sa’id al-Ghuzlani in al-Thamad in Kasserine Governorate
- August 2, 2018: Robbing a security bank branch in Kasserine City
- December 14, 2018: Killing his cousin Khalid al-Ghuzlani in al-Thamad in Kasserine Governorate
- December 15, 2018: Robbing a branch of the International Union of Banks in Sbiba in Kasserine Governorate
- He also was involved with raiding houses adjacent to the mountains of Kasserine and seizing supplies of residents and participating in planting landmines targeting security and military units.
Based on the above information on the arrested individual and the three killed, the Tunisian National Guard took down individuals involved in some major attacks over the past few years.