A Deadly Attack on the Bardo Museum in Tunis: IS’s Increasing Influence in North Africa

An attack on the well-known Bardo museum in Tunis, Tunisia killed 23 and left many more people injured. Twenty of the people killed were foreign tourists. Officials reported that the victims included four Italians, three Japanese and three French nationals, two Spanish, two Colombians, and one each from Britain, Poland and Belgium while the nationalities of three other victims are not yet unknown.  Currently, 47 people are receiving medical treatment at Tunis’ Charles Nicolle hospital, according to BBC.  Wednesday’s attack in Tunis was the worst in its type in the country ever since the public unrest against the Zine El Abidine Ben Alin regime in 2011, according to Aljazeera and BBC.  Nine people have been arrested in connection with the Wednesday’s deadly attack and four of them have already been identified as being directly involved.

Although most of the victims are foreigners, the Tunisian people, who were in the spirit of the celebration of their independence day from French colonial rule, have expressed their anger against the attack in a demonstration held Thursday outside the museum.  Beji Caid Essebsi, the Tunisian president, also addressed the nation on this tragic incident.

The day after the attack, the Islamic State, in an audio message posted online, made clear that they were behind this deadly attack. In fact, the Islamic state has also warned of further attacks.

Islamic State’s increasing influence in North Africa

The Islamic state which is based in Iraq has a growing range of membership and is extending its influences and presence beyond the Middle East. Wednesday’s incident in Tunis, its inhuman act of beheading Egypt’s Coptic Christians and its attack on a luxury hotel in Libya is a manifestation of the Islamic States’ increasing influence in this part of Africa. Recent alliances formed between the Islamic State and Boko Haram, based in northern Nigeria, is also an opportunity for the Islamic State to widen its horizon throughout region.

According to the International Center for the Study of Radicalization in London, up to 3,000 Tunisian citizens have gone abroad to wage jihad – including to Syria and Iraq, the birthplace of the Islamic State. The Islamic State is growing rapidly and has been able to infect places far beyond its self declared boundaries.