Three KUBN Terrorists Killed by Tunisia’s National Guard in Hidra

In the early morning of Monday September 2, an exchange of fire occurred between Tunisia’s National Guard and terrorist elements in Katibat ‘Uqbah Bin Nafi (KUBN) in ​​the Umm El Difa region of the delegation of Hidra in Kasserine governorate. As part of the security operation against KUBN, Tunisia’s National Guard conducted an ambush against the group, which led to three terrorists being killed as well as the Head of the National Guard Center in the Hidra region (Najibullah al-Sharni).

The KUBN cell was attempting to traverse from their base in Kasserine governorate up to El Kef governorate, to likely link up with their fellow group members in Jebel Ouergha, which has been a base for a number of KUBN IED attacks in the past. According to the spokesman for the National Guard’s General Department Colonel Hossam El Din El Gabbali, alongside the Tunisian military, their units had been tracking this KUBN cell for days.

Of the three terrorists killed, two are believed to be Algerian (El Bey el Akrouf and Tahar Jijli), with one of them allegedly being the emir of KUBN (el Akrouf). According to a Tunisian security source, el Akrouf had been involved with KUBN since 2013 and took part in prior operations in the El Kef region against Tunisian security forces. There were reports in November 2018, that el Akrouf had been shot in May 2018 at Jebel Ajred in Kasserine governorate and succumbed to wounds a couple of months later. However, this latest ambush suggests those reports were inaccurate. The third individual killed was also Algerian and named Salaheddin Gasmi, who was born in 1984. He was allegedly the emir of the Jebel Ouergha cell.

Here are details on past activities and operations each individual had been involved in prior to their deaths:

El Bey el Akrouf (Abu Salmah):

  • From Skikda, Algeria and in his 50s and originally joined the GIA in the 1990s
  • He joined KUBN in 2016 and became the group’s overall emir in 2017
  • Targeted a National Guard patrol in Ain Sultan of Jendouba in 2018
  • The killing of Lamjad al-Qariri in 2018
  • Targeted an armored vehicle of the Army in Jebel Chambi in 2019
  • Raiding houses and seizing supplies adjacent to the mountains of Kasserine, Jendouba, and El Kef
  • Planting landmines in the mountains of Kasserine and El Kef

Tahar Jijli (al-Mu’tasim/’Isa):

  • From Jijel, Algeria
  • Joined the GIA in 1994 and KUBN in 2013
  • Was a military advisor for AQIM and on its council of notables
  • Was responsible for all KUBN terrorist operations in Tunisia since 2013, including monitoring, processing, preparation, and execution
  • He maintained direct contact with AQIM’s emir Abu Mus’ab ‘Abd al-Wadud
  • He was the emir of KUBN’s El Kef and Jendouba cells
  • Targeted a military patrol in Jebel Ouergha in 2014
  • Targeted a military bus in Nabar from El Kef governorate, resulting in the death of 5 soldiers in 2014
  • He later moved to Kasserine in 2015
  • Targeted the Kirbi armored vehicle of the Army in 2016
  • Carried out an ambush on a National Guard patrol in Ain Sultan of Jendouba governorate in November 2017
  • Raiding houses and seizing supplies adjacent to the mountains of Kasserine, Jendouba, and El Kef
  • Responsible for the mining of the Tunisian mountains, which targeted patrols of the national guard and army

Salaheddin Gasmi (al-Mahi)

  • From Annaba Province, Algeria and in his 40s and originally joined the GSPC in 2002
  • He joined KUBN in March 2015 and a member of KUBN’s shura council
  • Targeted a Kirbi armored vehicle of an army patrol in late 2016
  • Targeted a National Guard patrol in Ain Sultan in Jendouba in 2018
  • Raiding houses adjacent and seizing supplies to the mountains of Kasserine, Jendouba, and El Kef
  • Planting mines targeting security and military units

In the aftermath of the ambush, Tunisia’s National Guard recovered a number of Kalashnikovs and dismantled explosive belts that were left on the KUBN elements that had been killed. Tunisia’s Minister of Interior, Hisham Furati, claims that “terrorist elements in Tunisia are living their last moments after the elimination of the most important and dangerous ones.” Time will tell if this sentiment is true.

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