The Islamic State: Foreign fighters from Tunisia

“What we have now is basically a dominance of different Salafi ideologies, […] due to the fact that we don’t have an appealing alternative philosophy in Islam in Tunisia.”


Dr Moncef Kartas sees the attraction of the Islamic State (IS) for Tunisians in two key legacies of the Ben Ali regime: neglect for Islamic scholarship and overall marginalization of religion in the public sphere.

Dr Kartas also cautions that we need to differentiate between a third and second wave of Tunisian jihadists, who joined the war in Syria and later ISIS for different reasons. He sees the systematic exclusion of Tunisian youth disappointed by the revolution as a main driver to join IS.

The interview was conducted on January 22, 2015. Dr Kartas visited the Netherlands to partake in a panel on ‘Guns and Borders: Libya’s Arms Bazaar Fueling Conflicts in the Arab World’ as part of the Henriette van Lynden lecture series organized by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.