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Minister: Tunisia salafis get orders from al-Qaida

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 28, 2013 at 1:52 pm •  Published: August 28, 2013

TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) — Al-Qaida has been giving Tunisia's radical Muslims orders to destabilize the country, the nation's top security official said Wednesday.

Interior Minister Lotfi Ben Jeddou's news conference follows the announcement the day before that Ansar al-Shariah, the country's most prominent organization of ultraconservative Muslims known as salafis, was a terrorist organization.

Ben Jeddou presented evidence, including taped confessions and a document allegedly written by the group's leader, Seifallah Ben Hassine, pledging allegiance to al-Qaida.

Tunisia overthrew its secular dictatorship in January 2011 but its transition to democracy has been hampered by terrorist attacks, political assassinations and the rise of salafi groups.

Ennahda, the moderate Islamist party that dominated elections, has been criticized by the opposition for turning a blind eye to the excesses of the salafi groups, but in recent months the government has taken a harder line.

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