Tunisia: Katibat Uqba Bin Nafaa makes media comeback by claiming landmine blasts at Jebel Semmama

Tunisia: Katibat Uqba Bin Nafaa makes media comeback by claiming landmine blasts at Jebel Semmama

After a relatively long time of silence Katibat Uqba Bin Nafaa (KUBN) also known as the Okba Ibn Nafaa Brigade made its comeback on social media by setting up a new twitter account. Jihadist groups in Tunisia in general have been quite silent with very limited media presence following crackdowns by security authorities on online activists spreading terrorist propaganda and inciting to terrorism, additionally, security forces having the upper hand on the field, not giving the terrorists entrenched in the mountains much freedom of movement. By the launch of a new KUBN media account it was expected that a release would follow.
KUBN banner

Katibat Uqba Bin Nafaa’s media banner

On July 22 a landmine exploded at Jebel Semmama in the Kasserine governorate while army units conducted combing operations in the area, the blast killed one soldier, Mohamed Amine Sablaoui, only 22-years-old from Cité Omar El Mokhtar (Sijoumi) in the capital Tunis, reportedly the only son of a widowed mother.

Four days after the mine blast KUBN released a statement claiming responsibility for the detonation of two landmines simultaneously at Jebel Semmama killing at least one soldier and wounding others. The incident comes after more than three months of silence with its last previous statement released on April 18, a statement of condolences related to events in El Oued, Algeria where the National Popular Army (ANP) conducted extensive counter-terrorism operations for months, killing 14 terrorists during the period March 10 – April 4, along with discovering several arms caches and seizing massive amounts of weapons and ammunition.

Among the terrorists killed in El Oued, KUBN suffered losses within their own ranks, regularly jumping the border and cooperating with terrorists on the Algerian side. KUBN’s links to Algeria are strong being Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb’s (AQIM) Tunisian branch or ‘Katiba’ with a significant Algerian component, some estimates and reports indicate that the group is split 50/50 between Algerians and Tunisians, maybe with a few members of other nationalities such as Mauritanian, Libyan and Malian.

Following this period of silence, questions have been raised regarding the group’s whereabouts, some sources stating that they relocated to Algeria, also not to exclude the possibility that the group could have merged with the Tunisian ISIS-affiliate Jund al-Khilafah, mainly active in Jebel Mghila, a mountain range not far from Semmama, thus creating a united front against a common enemy, the Tunisian state and its security forces. A scenario not unlikely since the local context of Tunisia has its own specificities, constituting a greyzone of overlapping operational zones and mobogenie app affinities, also connected to organized crime and a semi-symbiotic relationship with elements of the smuggling business or illlicit trade, at times a benificial relationship at other times less as seen in connection to the events in Ben Guerdane in early March this year. Further, an extensive network of jihadists built on the substratum of Ansar al-Sharia and with Tunisia being the world’s number one terrorist exporter. The consequences of the Tunisian foreign fighter exodus and the return of these fighters is still to be seen.okba july 26

July 22 statement by Katibat Uqba Bin Nafaa: “Targeting the apostate army in Tunisia with two landmines”

Shortly after KUBN’s media comeback and the released statement highlighted in this article, the account on twitter was taken down before being suspended, indicating that KUBN don’t have any interest in any significant media presence, instead showing a sign of life and letting people know that they are still around and active.