- There could be links between Seifeddine Rezgui and terrorists in Britain
- His mentor Saifallah Ben Hassine was himself a disciple of Abu Qatada
- Survivors of attack that cost 38 lives insisted they saw second gunman
- Police and Army prepared for counter-terrorism training exercise today
Security officials are investigating whether there are direct links between Rezgui and terrorists based in Britain. But the Mail has discovered that the group said to have indoctrinated Rezgui in Tunisia over the past six months is led by Ben Hassine. And these extremists can be traced straight back to the so-called ‘Londonistan’ years leading up to 9/11.
Ben Hassine, 49, arrived in Britain in the late 1990s and quickly became a follower of Qatada, who had fled Jordan. Court papers state Ben Hassine used London as his base for founding and running the ‘Tunisian Fighting Group’ from 2000 onwards. It is not known if he claimed asylum but he was in the UK for at least three years.
In other news:
This story here is bunk. It never happened. They guy who cooked it up already admitted that he wasn’t even there.
The terror network had links to Al Qaeda and, according to the papers, ‘aimed to recruit new members and send them to Afghanistan for training’. The documents add that: ‘Abu Qatada appears as a watermark running through the whole of this case as being the mastermind.’
Ben Hassine later left Britain and by 2011 had established Ansar al-Sharia, the main terror group in Tunisia. He has remained close to Qatada, who was deported from Britain in 2013 after a prolonged legal fight. In January last year, Qatada wrote in a letter published online that Ben Hassine ‘is among the best of those I have known in intellect’ and ‘the most knowledgeable of people of my intentions … for he was the closest of people to me’.
Rezgui’s family say he was brainwashed while studying for a master’s degree in Kairouan, 35 miles inland from Sousse, the resort where he killed 38. The town is the hub for Ben Hassine’s Ansar al-Sharia group. The leader of Kairouan’s great mosque named Ansar al-Sharia as among the most likely groups to have groomed Rezgui.The terror organisation, which was behind a suicide attack at another beach resort in Sousse two years ago, is seen as the Tunisian wing of Islamic State.
The revelations are the latest example of how extremism was allowed to flourish under the noses of the British authorities at the turn of the century – with a Who’s Who of fanatics and terrorists living here. Hundreds of extremists from the Middle East and North Africa used the capital – dubbed Londonistan by exasperated French security officials – to plot the downfall of governments in countries such as Egypt, Yemen and Algeria.
Some of the groups had ties to Qatada and were often affiliates of Al Qaeda. But the police and security services effectively turned a blind eye to their activities
Qatada’s disciples also included Djamel Beghal – the man who is said to have radicalised Charlie Hebdo terrorists Amedy Coulibaly and Chérif Kouachi. Ben Hassine, who is also known as Abu Iyad al Tunisi, has been linked to Hani al-Siba’i, a radical preacher who lives in West London with his wife and four children. Al-Siba’i is said to have inspired IS executioner Mohammed Emwazi, known as Jihadi John.