CIA warned Tunisian officials about murder of opposition politician
September 23, 2013
By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org
The Tunisian government has admitted that it received advance warning by “an external intelligence source” of an assassination operation against a popular opposition figure. The politician, Mohammed Brahmi, a widely respected member of the country’s National Constituent Assembly, was gunned down 11 days after the alleged warning was received. His death, in July of this year, plunged the country into political chaos, which continues to dominate Tunisian politics today. Speaking to lawmakers on Thursday, Tunisia’s Minister of the Interior, Lotfi Ben Jeddou, said the warning had been received on July 15, 2013. He refused to identify the source of the warning, but Tunisian media speculated that it was most likely the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The warning was included in a memorandum, which stated that Brahmi was likely to be targeted by “Salafist elements” because of his secular and liberal political beliefs. The minister said that the warning contained no “further clarification”, but added that the absence of details in the memorandum did not justify the failure of the Tunisian security establishment to adequately respond to it. Brahmi, died on July 25 after being shot over a dozen times at close range outside his house in the al-Gazala neighborhood of Tunisian capital Tunis. On Saturday, two days after Minister Ben Jeddou’s revelation, Tunisian newspaper Al Maghreb published a leaked memorandum that contains a summary of the warning about Brahmi’s killing. The leaked summary, which is signed by Tunisia’s Director General of National Security, Mustafa Ben Amor, appears to be dated July 15, 2013, exactly 11 days before Brahmi’s assassination. It describes a warning issued by a CIA official, concerning credible threats to Brahmi’s life. The leaked memorandum indicates that the CIA warning was received by the National Security Administration, which is the intelligence arm of Tunisia’s Ministry of the Interior. Brahmi, who died at the age of 58, was a leading member of the People Movement Party, the most liberal mainstream political formation to emerge following the Arab Spring in Tunisia. His assassination brought thousands of young Tunisians to the streets, as protests against the increasing power of Salafist elements spread throughout the country. Interior Minister Ben Jeddou announced on Thursday that an investigation would be launched to examine why the CIA warning was disregarded. The CIA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence were approached by the Associated Press but declined comment on the story.