Tunisian Combatant Group

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Tunisian Combatant Group
Participant in the Global War on Terrorism
Active 2000s
Ideology Salafi jihadism
Area of operations Tunisia
Western Europe
Split from Ennahda Movement[1]
Became Ansar al-Sharia (Tunisia)

The Tunisian Combatant Group (Arabic: الجماعة التونسية المقاتلة; Jama’a Combattante Tunisienne, French: Groupe Combattant Tunisien) or TCG was a loose network of terrorists founded in 2000 that aspired to install an Islamist government in Tunisia.[1] According to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), TCG is believed to have had terrorist cells in France, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and in the United Kingdom.[2] By the 2010s, it was not clear whether the group still existed.[4]


The TCG was founded in 2000 by Tarek Ben Habib Maaroufi and Seifallah Ben Hassine, in close cooperation with al-Qaeda.[2] The group aimed to establish an Islamic state in Tunisia ruled according to Sharia.[1][3][4] The strategy of the TCG was set during a meeting in Khost, Afghanistan, where it declared its support for Osama bin Laden.[2] Most of its members were trained in al-Qaeda-linked camps in Afghanistan, and it later organised training for new recruits in the camps.[2] It has been described as an offshoot of the formerly banned Ennahda Movement.[1]

A number of the detainees held in extrajudicial detention in the United States Guantanamo Bay detainment camps, in Cuba, remain in detention, in part, because American intelligence analysts allege they were members of TCG.

Maaroufi was arrested by Belgian authorities in December 2001, and in 2004 sentenced to five years imprisonment.[3] Since 2004 the TCG did not have capabilities to operate in Tunisia, and was since then based among the Tunisian diaspora in Western Europe.[4][5]

Hassine was arrested by Turkish authorities in 2003, after which he was extradited to Tunisia, where he was sentenced to 43 years imprisonment.[6] Following the Arab Spring and the Tunisian Revolution in 2011, Hassine was released from prison as part of a general amnesty, and went on to found the militant Ansar al-Sharia group.[7]

European branches[edit]

The TCG had branches in several European countries.[2] The Italian branch of the organisation was led by Sami ben Khemais Essid, and was dismantled by law enforcement in April 2001.[2] Essid's group was connected to the "Frankfurt group", which was responsible for the Strasbourg Cathedral bombing plot in December 2000.[2] Several members of the TCG in Italy were convicted for terror-related activities in 2003.[3]

The Belgian branch of the TCG was led by Maaroufi, and was responsible for organising the travel to Afghanistan of the two terrorists who assassinated the anti-Taliban Afghan political leader Ahmad Shah Massoud on 9 September 2001.[2] The Belgian branch has since also been dismantled.[2] Kamel ben Moussa, an official of the group was arrested in the United Kingdom on 18 December 2001.[2]

Foreign Relations[edit]

Designation as a terrorist organization[edit]

Countries and organizations below have officially listed the Tunisian Combat Group as a terrorist organization.

Country Date References
 United Nations 10 October 2002 [2]
 United States 20 December 2004 [8]
 Israel [9]


  1. ^ a b c d e "The TCG". Overseas Security Advisory Council (USA). Archived from the original on 28 December 2005.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "QDe.090 TUNISIAN COMBATANT GROUP". United Nations Security Council (UNSC). 7 April 2011. Retrieved 12 August 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d e Tan, Andrew T .H. (2010). Politics of Terrorism: A Survey. Routledge. p. 219. ISBN 9781136833366.
  4. ^ a b c The World Almanac of Islamism: 2014. Rowman & Littlefield. 2014. p. 345. ISBN 9781442231443.
  5. ^ Davis, John (2012). Terrorism in Africa: The Evolving Front in the War on Terror. Lexington Books. p. 167. ISBN 9780739135778.
  6. ^ icct.nl: "Raising the Stakes: Ansar al-Sharia in Tunisia’s Shift to Jihad", Feb 2014
  7. ^ "Al Qaeda ally orchestrated assault on US Embassy in Tunisia". Long War Journal. 2 October 2012. Retrieved 12 August 2014.
  8. ^ "Terrorist Exclusion List". Overseas Security Advisory Council (USA). 29 December 2004. Retrieved 10 January 2014.
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-08-10. Retrieved 2014-08-09.