Murder in Tunisia: blame the West’s moral impotence and Seifeddine Rezgui’s poverty
The horror in Tunisia is getting blanket media coverage. Fifteen British citizens are known to have been murdered. In all, 38 people were killed and 36 wounded by the Islamist at the Sousse beach resort.
The Times: “Tunisia relatives’ desperate wait for news”
Not knowing must be terrible.
Ross Naylor has launched a social media appeal for news of his father Scott Chalkley, 42, and his partner Sue Davey, both of whom were staying at the Imperial hotel which was caught up in the attack in the popualr resourt of Sousse. He said he has not heard any news on their whereabouts despite several calls to their mobile phones, the hotel, the Foreign Office and a local hospital.
The Times quotes Foreign Minister Tobias Ellwood:
“This is the most significant terrorist attack on British people since 7/7 and highlights the ongoing threat of Isil [Isis].”
It looks like relying on the Kurds to keep the barbarians at bay is not going to work.
Daily Mail: “Kalashnikov in hand, chilling images show ISIS murderer walking on beach in front of stunned onlookers before unleashing carnage”
Or as the Mirror notes on the same image:
“Kalshnikov in hand, the killer is seen strolling in the surf with unsuspecting tourists on the beach behind him
Stunned or unsuspecting? The reporting in weak. The image is banal.
The paper adds:
Machine gun in hand, the ISIS gunman calmly strolls down the Tunisian beach where he gunned down 38 innocent tourists in cold blood. A truly chilling image shows Seifeddine Rezgui walking through the shallow water in Sousse with his AK47 – casually passing abandoned inflatables as a group of men keep their distance behind him.
The image tells us nothing. But the Mail wants to focus on the killer. It shows more photos of his face and his dead body. And it still tells us nothing.
The Mirror hears from the ‘hero’ policeman who apparently killed the killer:
Re-living the shoot-out, he said: “I put two bullets in him. I haven’t slept since.”
The Mail continues the barrage. It’s news to gawp at. It’s almost pornographic in its obviousness. These are some headlines:
* Horror on the beach: At least 15 Britons confirmed dead in Tunisian massacre as it emerges that ISIS gunman LAUGHED as he picked off his victims
* Ramadan will have lots of surprises’: The chilling threats from ISIS social media accounts before Tunisia attack
* ‘An attack upon the nests of fornication, vice and disbelief in God’: ISIS’s chilling words after Tunisian massacre which killed 38 as they warn ‘worse is to follow’
Tony Callaghan, 52 from Norfolk and his wife Chris survived the attack but were both taken to hospital with gunshot wounds.
Mr Callaghan described the horrific scene inside the hotel.
“I looked down the corridor and there were at least two other females who were dead, they had been shot,” he said. “One of the little offices that went out to the right, there was a young guy in there who was sat on a chair. And his girlfriend was dead next to him in the office and he was holding her hand. And he said, what do I do?… I pulled him out the way and I checked for a pulse. And there was no pulse. He said ‘we’re getting married in two weeks time’. And she was dead.”
No need to sensationalise the horror. The individual’s story is painful. No need to understand the jihadi and the politics. To be human you need only to empathise with the pain.
BBC: “Relatives of Tunisia gunman ‘horrified’ by beach massacre”
This image taken from a militant website associated with Islamic State, posted on Saturday, purports to show the Tunisian gunman, whom Islamic State referred to by a nom de guerre – Abu Yahya al-Qayrawani
In the Tunisian village of Jaafour, where the man who is widely alleged to have carried out the attack in Sousse was born and bred, there is shock and distress. The Tunisian, whom Islamic State have named as Abu Yahya al-Qayrawani, lived in Jaafour until he was 19 or 20. He then went off to university at Kairouan but continued to visit the village regularly…
He went away. And then he came home. What say his loved ones?
They said they had seen him literally two or three days before the event and that there was nothing in his behaviour to indicate he had been radicalised or that he was about to carry out an attack.
It seems that just the day before the attack, on Thursday, he was in Jaafour and he had his beard shaved off, presumably the better to make his way onto the beach without arousing suspicion.
The Sun has a photo of the killer:
The Guardian: “Tunisia beach attack killer’s stunned neighbours blame ‘brainwashing’”
It was someone else?
On Thursday evening the gunman who would mow down more than 30 unarmed tourists in a luxury hotel went as usual to prayers at his mosque and walked down the streets greeting people he knew…
“He was good, good, good!” said a neighbour and family friend, Monia Riahi, 50, standing with her daughters at the entrance to her house. “I’ve known him since he was small. He was never in trouble with anyone ever. Maybe he was brainwashed or something.” She added how sorry she was for the dead.
Maybe. But does anyone who knew the child ever suspect they will grow into a killer? Were young Hitler an Osama bin Laden good boys?
“I think maybe, just maybe, it was poverty that did it,” said neighbour Ammar Fazai, 64. “There’s that old saying: ‘If poverty was a man, I would kill him.’ And maybe, like the lady said, they washed his brain and eliminated all the kindness from it.”
Fazai explained that until the zinc and lead mines not far from the town closed in 1993, there was ample work, but unemployment in the area is now high, especially among the young. The Rezgui family also endured tragedy when a brother a year younger than Seifeddine was killed by a lightning strike aged 14 while out in the fields. Two other young siblings are currently staying with relatives while their parents are in Tunis.
Fertile ground, then, for someone with no rosy-fingered future who wants to be a big man.
Local people in the town say that there are many Salafists living there, following a hardline interpretation of Islam and based at the mosque that Rezgui attended daily. But one of the Salafist imams from the town denied that the group would ever incite young men to commit a massacre like Friday’s attack.
“I’m as totally at a loss to explain this as everyone else. This is not the kind of Islam we preach here at all,” said the imam of one mosque in town, a middle-aged man who declined to give his name.
What do they preach? And what did it resonate with the young man?
The Independent: “Isis, a year of the caliphate: How powerful is the ‘Islamic State’ and what threat does it really pose to West?”
Sleeper cells and refugee flows
Joseph Willits is an official with the Council for Arab-British Understanding (Caabu) and a former teacher based in Syria
The most serious threat that Isis poses to the West remains in the repercussions of their actions and territorial gains, exacerbated by the actions of the Assad regime in Syria. Conflicts will continue to displace thousands of people.
Assad is till there in power. He won’t go.
Syrian refugees cross the Syria-Turkey border on June 22, 2015 Syrian refugees cross the Syria-Turkey border on June 22, 2015
From just 2 to 15 June, more than 23,000 people fled into Turkey due to fighting near the border between Isis and the Syrian Kurdish forces. With Isis in Libya, the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean will only worsen. Inevitably, these huge refugee flows will impact greatly on Europe. The subsequent costs will be huge, as will the effects on key western strategic interests in the region, such as Jordan, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia.
Western power in the region looks impotent.
Isis’s primary goal at the moment is to establish a state, and maintain its hold on cities like Mosul and Raqqa. But while Isis may not directly prioritise the shedding of blood in European capitals or in tourist sites across the Middle East, they would certainly benefit from sleeper cells, stirring things up and intensifying this climate of fear.
Patrick Cockburn’s words should resonate:
“It was the US, Europe, and their regional allies in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, and United Arab Emirates that created the conditions for the rise of ISIS.”
What now can the West and the US do about it? Nothing. Becasue when you have leaders who are not sure-footed and spo0ut only moral messages and aphorisms in place of vision and politics, you are powerless. You offer nothing. Remember what Barack Obama said of Islamic State:
“Lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ… [And] slavery and Jim Crow all too often [were] justified in the name of Christ.”
That was then. This is now.