The ISIS Empire Strikes Back
In one of the more shocking developments in the wake of the attack on Tunis’ historic Bardo Museum last week, local authorities have found that the Islamic State terrorist group have gained footing in an unexpected part of the country.
The town of Tataouine, best known as the Tunisian desert locale that became the inspiration and site of filming for the blockbuster Star Wars film franchise, is reputedly now a home for those jihadist fighters aligned with ISIS. Tataouine is located in the southwestern region of the country, approximately 60 miles from the border it shares with Libya. George Lucas helped bring the town its fame by naming the home planet of the hero Luke Skywalker after it while shooting at different locations there. The town was also featured as a site for alien activity in The X-Files movie. Subsequently, those sites in the region have enjoyed the benefits of year-round tourism.
The Tunisian government made the announcement of the discovery of immense weapons storage sites in the region due to renewed searches in the countryside after the attack last week that claimed 23 lives. Responsibility for the attack was claimed by the Islamic State soon afterwards, and it was later determined that the gunmen were Tunisian nationals. The weapons caches are another troubling sign of just how strong the group’s position in within the country. For example, one of the caches found was estimated to have 20,000 rounds of ammunition in addition to holding a number of rocket-propelled grenade launchers. These arms are alleged to have come from the personal stash of the late former leader of Libya, Moahmmar Gadhafi, ousted by revolt in 2011.
Security officials have also determined that the Bardo Museum gunmen received their training in Libya. To that end, Tataouine has also been identified as a waystation for those looking to join ISIS camps in the Libyan desert. The region has been considered a weak point in terms of border crossings for some time, and the Tunisian government has been vigilant in trying to fortify defenses there through stronger checkpoints and buffer zones. Meanwhile, there have been official embassy warnings issued to tourists from several countries including Britain and the United States that advise against any visits to the region whatsoever.