Terror cast its spell on Rezgui
THE Tunisian jihadist behind last month’s massacre of foreigners at a seaside resort had previously worked in tourism, officials said yesterday, as his mother insisted the young man was “brainwashed”.
Prime Minister Habib Essid yesterday revealed more details about 23- year- old Seifeddine Rezgui, who gunned down 38 foreign tourists in the June 26 attack at Port El Kantaoui, north of Soussek.
“We know he was a member of a dance club and was familiar with the tourism sector, having worked in it as an events organiser,” Essid told the French- language newspaper La Presse.
Tourists fled in horror as Rezgui pulled a Kalashnikov assault rifle from inside a furled beach umbrella and went on a shooting spree outside a five- star hotel. He was eventually shot dead by police.
Both the authorities and relatives later described him as having been an apparently normal young man who had been keen on breakdancing.
His mother Radhia Manai, 49, told Britain’s Sunday Times her son must have been “brainwashed” by extremists.
“When they told me my son had killed all these people I said no, it’s impossible,” she said. “I can’t believe it. Once there was a mouse in the house and I asked Seifeddine to kill it, and he refused, saying, ‘ I can’t kill anything’.”
The attack on the beach and around the swimming pools of the Riu Imperial Marhaba Hotel was claimed by the Islamic State group. On Saturday, eight days after the deadly rampage, President Beji Caid Essebsi declared a state of emergency, saying the attack had left Tunisia facing a “special type of war”.
The measure, effective for a 30- day period, allows authorities to bar strike action and public meetings deemed dangerous to public order and to increase media controls.
Essid told La Presse that security agents had tried to intervene when the attack unfolded, but that a weapon jammed.
“It has to be said that national guard members on an inflatable boat intervened very quickly,” he said.
“They fired at the assailant but didn’t hit him ... then their gun jammed.”
As for rapidly bringing in reinforcements, “to reach the resort of Port El Kantaoui we had to cross the entire city of Sousse on Friday at noon”, Essid told the paper.
“An investigation is now under way to define responsibilities for the delay,” he said.