TS Update-(New Site Subscribe Today)

Greetings Expats,

Since my return to Tunis on Friday I’ve been amazed at the amount of information coming our way here at the Tunisia Security Update blog.  On that note I would like to say thank you to all the expats and Tunisians that support us with insightful information.  

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Blog Update  

We’ve updated the blog and moved it to a self hosted site.  It’s the same domain (www.tunisiasecurityupdate.com) but we weren’t able to transfer all of our subscribers (over 2k!).    

If you would like to receive these updates directly into your email inbox please visit the new website and click on the subscribe button.  Simply enter your email and presto you will receive free security updates which you can view on any electronic device.  

Click here to visit new site

Challenges & Opportunities 

Since 2011 the purpose of the this blog was to empower expats with practical & relevant security information.  The security situation in Tunisia remains challenging but with the right setup and network we will continue to thrive in this beautiful country.

Please check out the blog homepage, subscribe and let me know what you think.

TS Update-(Summer Challenges & Beyond)

Greetings Expats,

As we stated in our previous postings, the threat level in Tunisia has increased and the month of Ramadan is proving to be very challenging for Tunisians.  This is a great time for us to review what happened and look beyond.

What’s going on? 

At least 14 Tunisian soldiers were killed when gunmen with rocket-propelled grenade attacked two checkpoints in the Chaambi mountain range.

Tunisian government stated that the attackers are tied to Al-Qaeda’s North Africa wing, known as Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

Minster of Interior Mr. Ben Jeddou stated that since the start of Ramadan they’ve foiled six terrorist operations in  Tunisia.

Short Term=Tourism hit

Mount Chaambi is a war zone so it is very likely that similar incidents will take place.  On a broader level, the last couple of days have been a public relations nightmare for Tunisian tourism.  The Brits took the lead by warning its citizens of a “high threat from terrorism, including kidnapping.”

Specifically, the FCO advises against:  “all but essential travel to areas south of, and including, the towns of Nefta, Douz, Medenine and Zarzisj, and to within 30km of the border with Algeria from south of the town of Ghardinaou.”

To put it bluntly, this really sucks for Tunisia especially since the number of British visitors to Tunisia reached a new record last year with more than 400,000 visitors.

Long Term=Great Security Challenge 

Here are my top 3 reasons why I think we (Tunisians & Expat Community) have great security challenges ahead:

  1. Parliamentary elections (currently) scheduled to take place on October 26th & Presidential elections on November 23rd
  2. Current situation in Libya
  3. Social-Economic challenges in Tunisia

And as if these weren’t challenging enough we also have to look at even more alarming developments such as “reports indicating the return of Libyan jihadists and others from Tunisia to their countries to create branches of ISIS in North Africa.”

Expat Deep Breath 

Since 2011 we’ve seen how resilient, peaceful, and kind Tunisians are.  We certainly hope for the best for Tunisia but as expats we have to focus on ensuring that our personal security matches or exceeds the threat level.

With the right setup, mindset, and network we can continue to live & thrive in beautiful Tunisia.  This is true for both tourists & expats.

Let’s stay connected…

 

TS Update-(Ramadan Security Update)

Greetings Expats,

I am still in the United States traveling around and catching up with family members.  As much as I try to “unplug”, I couldn’t resist checking my emails.  After reading a few I quickly decided it’s time for an update:

Civil Unrest & Concerns 

Security professionals in Tunisia are monitoring several developments which have the potential to trigger civil unrest:

1.  Situation in Gaza:  In response to the ongoing situation in Gaza, activists are organizing a protest on Friday, July 11 at 2130 in downtown Tunis.

2.  Release of Controversial film:  Numerous social media reports on Friday, 4 July, revealed that several European-based activists will release a provocative film offensive to Muslims.

3.  Perfect storm scenario:  There are a number of potential incidents that could trigger civil unrest.  The presence of militant groups operating within Tunisia is now a reality.  On July 1st,  a “roadside bomb exploded as a military vehicle passed by, wounding four soldiers and two members of the National Guard.”

Terrorism Concerns  

Several developments related to the broad topic of terrorism are also concerning and worth evaluating:

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1.  Tunisia Terror -On July 5th Tunisian security forces foiled a militant attack on Mornaguia Prison.  According to Shems FM seven prison guards were arrested in the operation.

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2.  Islamic State (IS) call to arms included Tunisia as a legitimate target.  This story would probably surprise a lot of expats “wait Islamic State…aren’t they in Iraq?”…The short answer is no and as the cited article accurately puts it:

Tunisia is now on “equal footing with Algeria and the US in terms of its alleged oppression of Muslims. Government buildings or security forces would be the most likely targets, but diplomats, embassies and other assets of countries perceived to be anti-Islamist, such as the UK, France or Egypt, would also be potential targets.”

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3.  Tunisia raises terrorism alert level-On July 9th, Officials raised the security alert level “inside cities and at sensitive sites especially during iftar.”  As always the measure is broad and vague but worth noting.

Looking Ahead 

The concerns cited above along with the elections & economic challenges; give us more than enough reasons to evaluate our security posture in Tunisia.  Now is a good time to review your 3C:  Communication, Community, Continuity.

  • Communication:  Make sure your receiving practical & relevant security updates.
  • Community:  Good situational awareness & networking.
  • Continuity:  As always make sure you have a plan to deal with challenging situations.

On the flip side there’s a lot of good information coming out of Tunisia.  It still remains the last great hope of the Arab Spring  and many remain optimistic about its future.

As informed Expats we simply want to be aware of the security situation so that we are able to safely live & thrive in beautiful Tunisia.

Let’s stay connected.  

 

 

 

TS Update-(Fire Awareness)

Greetings Expats,

Several “suspicious” fires have recently taken place throughout Tunis.  Last night, for example  a fire broke out in a wheat field in the region of Bouhajla, Kairouan Governorate and 3 hectares of wheat were consumed by the fire. 

The string of “fires” are strange and there are many theories flying around as to their “real” causes, but as expats what’s important is that we make practical adjustments.  We have noticed Tunisian security forces increasing their level of alertness and this could indicate that they are taking these incidents seriously.

Additionally, it’s important to note that Tunisian National Guard units arrested 14 members of a cell linked to Ansar al-Sharia on Tuesday, June 3rd.  According to the interior ministry, the group “planned to launch attacks on vital interest in the country.”

 

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Picture From Tunisie Numerique Article 

 

Expat Residential Fire Safety

Obtaining a fire extinguisher in Tunisia is inexpensive and easy.  The best one to get for home use is the ABC model. Obviously, the best place to keep one is in the kitchen and they are pretty easy to use.  

Expat Reminder:  Fire Department (pompiers): Dial 198

Fires aside, it would be a shame if we didn’t highlight the positive vote of confidence that King Mohammed VI  gave Tunisia during his visit by simply walking around town with “limited security”.

 I guess the message is:  “If it’s safe enough for a King…”

 

TS Update-(Fire Awareness)

Greetings Expats,

Several “suspicious” fires have recently taken place throughout Tunis.  Last night, for example  a fire broke out in a wheat field in the region of Bouhajla, Kairouan Governorate and 3 hectares of wheat were consumed by the fire. 

The string of “fires” are strange and there are many theories flying around as to their “real” causes, but as expats what’s important is that we make practical adjustments.  We have noticed Tunisian security forces increasing their level of alertness and this could indicate that they are taking these incidents seriously.

Additionally, it’s important to note that Tunisian National Guard units arrested 14 members of a cell linked to Ansar al-Sharia on Tuesday, June 3rd.  According to the interior ministry, the group “planned to launch attacks on vital interest in the country.”

 

tunisfire1
Picture From Tunisie Numerique Article 

 

Expat Residential Fire Safety

Obtaining a fire extinguisher in Tunisia is inexpensive and easy.  The best one to get for home use is the ABC model. Obviously, the best place to keep one is in the kitchen and they are pretty easy to use.  

Expat Reminder:  Fire Department (pompiers): Dial 198

Fires aside, it would be a shame if we didn’t highlight the positive vote of confidence that King Mohammed VI  gave Tunisia during his visit by simply walking around town with “limited security”.

 I guess the message is:  “If it’s safe enough for a King…”

 

TS Update-(Residential Security Incident in Kasserine)

Greetings Expats,

Over the last few weeks we’ve been discussing the seriousness of residential security and the lack of security on the ground within local neighborhoods.  Last night’s incident in Kasserine where gunmen “attacked the home of the country’s top security official, killing four of the police guarding it”  is a tragic & powerful case and point.  

According to witnesses:  “The assailants were hooded and arrived in a pick-up truck around mid-night in an attempt to enter the house. The group was on board of vehicle type Isuzu D-Max and opened fire on law enforcement officers tasked to secure the house”.  Additionally, authorities say the militants are linked to Al Qaeda, however it is important to note that militants have not claimed the attacks.  

Challenges Ahead

While discussing the incident this morning with one of my most reliable contacts he mentioned a phrase that I often dread:  “mezelet” which loosely means “not yet done”.  As a man that’s very selective about the words he uses, I’ve learned throughout the years that this means there are challenges ahead.  

What types of challenges?  

Well when a top security official’s home is attacked it indicates that groups are active & willing to conduct bold operations.  With the tourist & political campaign season upon us; this will have widespread consequences and we should see a strong response by the Tunisian security forces.  

On the expat side of things we should continue to focus on improving our personal & residential security setup.  After these types of incidents there is always a lot of nervous energy & concern, but as informed expats we should simply evaluate our setup and continue to follow practical security guidelines.  

  1. Review your routes & routines (set down and simply right down your weekly routine…then think of ways to change your routes so that you’re not predictable.)
  2. Walk around your residence and think of a few ways to make it more secure.  
  3. Make sure you are aware of your surroundings and receiving reliable information.   

Let’s continue to share informative information.   

Residential Security-(Laouina Incident)

Greetings Expats,

Let’s give credit where credit is due.  We have seen some notable security improvements since the technocratic government headed by Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa took office early this year.  The recent successful event in Djerba is a good example of the government’s commitment to security.  

Even with all the positive news that we’ve seen lately regarding the security situation in Tunisia; things are still hard to read.  While security has improved at the border and tourists areas; crime is picking up in local neighborhoods.  

Home Invasion in Laouina

During the middle of the night on Thursday (May 22nd/23rd) I received a phone call related to an expat needing security assistance.   Located near the Laouina Monoprix, the expat lives in a 2-story home with his family.  

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Aouina Neighborhood (Not the best neighborhood but certainly not the “wrong side” of town.)

According to the expat, he was awaken in the middle of the night (approx. 1:30am) by his youngest son who was complaining about his arm itching.  While retrieving a cream he realized that a window was open.  

The open window was enough to make the dad realize that something was wrong.  As he made his way downstairs, he noticed the front door was open and the criminals took off with his vehicle (keys were left near the door).  

In addition to the car they mostly stole electronic items to include a laptop, storing devices, and stereo speakers.

Obviously, the family was very shaken by the incident.  

Who did it? 

It’s important to note how the crime was committed before pointing to who might have done it.  The criminals came during the late hours of the night.  They brought their own tools (ladder in the picture below) and obviously had prior knowledge about the setup of the house.  

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Who?

Well here’s what we know: 

  • Family recently had (2) “reputable” companies conduct surveys at the home in preparation for their move.  If you remember the last incident that I shared which took place in La Marsa also had a company conduct a shipping survey.  Important to point out that it was not the same company in both cases.  
  • The guard was not feeling well and left his post at about 10pm.  The guard was also notably absent in the La Marsa incident.  

So just to recap, we’ve had (2) home invasions in the last 3 weeks.  Here’s what they both had in common:  

  1. They were both Expats
  2. They just recently had a shipping survey
  3. The guard was absent on the day of the incident

Police Reaction 

Night patrols are minimal and ineffective at best.  Local hired “street guards” are easily compromised and lack the awareness to respond.  Alarms and iron works help but ensuring that only people you trust access your home is very important.  

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Police search for finger prints…

On a positive side, the police was able to find the stolen vehicle in less than 24hours.  The family remains shaken but they will leave Tunis this summer for good.  

This is certainly an exceptional case and home invasions are still by no means “normal” in Tunisia.  However, the last 2 cases have certainly made us rethink our residential security setup.  

Now is a great time for every expat to review their residential as well as their personal security setup.  Remember that the key is to have a good balance between practical & effective.  

Let’s keep sharing information and if you would like more information on this case or how you can make your home more secure here in Tunis please feel free to email us at: