Tunisian security officials arrested, killed, amid counter-coup fears

Ali Seriati

Ali Seriati

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Several key figures in Tunisia’s crumbling security apparatus have being either apprehended or killed, amid fears that they were planning a countercoup against the country’s new unity government. Most notable among the arrestees is General Ali Seriati, longtime director of deposed Tunisian dictator Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali’s Presidential Security Force. Seriati was arrested on Sunday, reportedly “by citizens as he tried to cross into Libya”. Reports from Tunis suggest that Ben Ali’s Interior Minister, Rafik Belham Kacem, who commanded the country’s’ domestic intelligence apparatus, has also been detained. Meanwhile, the BBC reports that Imed Trabelsi, a politically powerful nephew of the former dictator’s wife, was lynched to death late on Saturday. Seriati and Kacem’s arrests are seen as attempts by the new government to prevent a widely feared coup plot, organized by the remnants of Ben Ali’s security apparatus, aimed at returning him to power. Initial stages of the coup materialized on Saturday, when several gunmen riding in unmarked cars launched a wave of armed attacks against opposition targets in capital Tunis and elsewhere. Political observers in the country appeared to immediately connect the attacks with General Seriati’s Presidential Security Force, said to include some of the former president’s staunchest supporters. State television said Seriati is due to “appear before a court for having created division among the people, threatened national security and provoked armed violence among Tunisians”. Meanwhile, unidentified gunmen said to be connected to the security services continue to launch sporadic armed attacks at buildings associated with Tunisia’s opposition Parti Démocrate Progressiste (PDP). Earlier last week, Tunisia’s deposed dictator Ben Ali was taken along with his immediate family to a heavily guarded palace in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, belonging to the Saudi royal family. Observers revealed that the Saudi King authorized Ben Ali’s entry into the Kingdom providing he would abstain from politics and all media appearances.

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

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