Ter­ror cast its spell on Rezgui

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS -

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.

Seifed­dine Rezgui.

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