Tunisia jails Salafist leader in US embassy attack for 1 year


A Tunisian court sentenced a leader of radical Islamist group Ansar al-Sharia to one year in prison for inciting an attack on the U.S. embassy in Tunis last month in which four people were killed.

The conviction of Abu Ayub was the first in connection with the attack – launched to protest against an anti-Islamic film made in California – and is likely to please the United States which has been urging the authorities to jail those responsible.
“The judge decided to jail him on charges of inciting violence … This decision is unfair … we will go to appeal,” said Rafik Ghak, a lawyer for Abu Ayub, Reuters reports.

The authorities arrested 144 people, including two prominent leaders of Ansar al-Sharia after the embassy attack. Saif-Allah Benahssine, the leader of the group, has urged the government to release them.

Benahssine on Tuesday accused the country’s government of being a puppet of the United States and un-Islamic.

The United States this month requested Tunisia bring the embassy attackers to trial, pledging to continue its support for the democratic transition in Tunisia.

A suspected Islamic militant under arrest in Tunisia is being investigated by the United States in connection with the September 11 attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya, U.S. government sources have said.

Tunisia expects Washington to guarantee around a fifth of its $2.2-2.5 billion borrowing needs next year to help its economy recover from last year’s revolution, the country’s minister of international cooperation, Riadh Betaib, told Reuters last month.