In October, Marianne, a French weekly, reported on the existence of two training camps in Tunisia and little government interest in addressing the issue. The Tunisian government denied the report. I found a translation of the original article, excerpted below.
Meanwhile this is causing nightmares to the great Algerian neighbor. In Algiers, the border with Tunisia has become a matter of great concern. Within the space of a few weeks, two major operations have highlighted the scale of the danger. A major jihadist network from Tunisia was dismantled at Annaba. Near Tebessa, the Algerian security forces apparently found ground-to-air missiles from Libya, having passed via Tunisia, where jihadis no longer even bother to conceal themselves.
For instance, an incredible carnival of God's warriors was held in Kairouan, under Abou lyad's auspices. This man used to be one of Bin Ladin's lieutenants and organized the attack on Commander Masud in Afghanistan. He was identified recently during the attack on the US Embassy in Tunis. At Kairouan, this man convened members of Ansar Al-Charia, his jihadist group formed in 2011. Several thousand men came from all over the country, most of them youngsters, dressed in Afghan style, with white qamis (long robes) or jeans, T-shirts, and designer trainers. The flag of the Islamic caliphate flew triumphantly, while Mokhta Jebali, president of the Tunisian Front of Islamic Organizations, declared. "People fear jihadis because our enemies have destroyed our image. But, by definition, a Muslim is a jihadi. The Prophet was the greatest mujahid." The ecstatic crowd wanted only one thing -- to reach the assigned destinations for Tunisia's mujahedin, in the North and South, Watched by to a former Guantanamo detainee, 3,000 supporters of holy war chanted: "Obama, Obama, we are Usama!" This was the slogan shouted on 14 September during the attack on the US Embassy.
In order to show that the Tunisia's youth are ready to fight, the organizers held displays of "zamaktel tounsi," a Tunisian martial art, which can now be learned at Ansar Al-Charia camps. Youngsters were fascinated by the "combatants," with camouflaged faces, demonstrating it. The recruitment drive was underway. Out in the open. "Since Ben Ali's fall, we have experienced a euphoric mood, without worrying about the Salafists," one secular intellectual complained. "We despised them and never imagined that they could pose a danger to the country. Now, here they are, trained, armed, and gathered into militias." Obsessed with the huntfor members of the former regime, Tunisians refused to see that the radical Islamists were making headway.
The first warning sign may have come from reports of the death of Imad, the youngster from Bizert, near Benghazi, during the lighting against Al-Qadhafi’s regime. "At that time," we were told by Mounir, a architecture student, "we told ourselves that he was just a young man who had died for the sake of democracy, whereas these were in fact the beginnings of a jihadist international expected to fight wherever their chief demands."
Now not a week goes by without reports that a young Tunisian has died "a martyrs death" in Syria. Young jihadis start their training in Tunisia and go on to complete their combat raining in such lands of jihad as Syria, Mali, or Libya. One sign of the times is the fact that jihadis' families are no longer regarded with disapproval. Mounir noticed this when he went to offer his condolences following the death of a childhood friend "on God's path" in Aleppo: "this modest family, at one time socially marginalized, has gained a new status and is held up as an example."