Def Min

[AFP/Fethi Belaid] Tunisian Defence Minister Ghazi Jeribi on November 20, 2014 announced the launch of a new security agency.

To eradicate terrorism, the Tunisian government is putting military and civil intelligence under one umbrella.

Tunisia on Tuesday (November 20th) established the Intelligence, Security and Defence Agency under the Ministry of Defence.

Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa said the move “gives more flexibility and efficiency to intelligence work”.

The intelligence apparatus, whether military or security, has been criticised since the revolution for its inability to prevent terrorist groups from carrying out attacks on Tunisian territory and then quickly fleeing.

The security establishment was aware of the great weakness after the dissolution of the state security system, and has since started to recover.

The new intelligence agency “falls within the framework of a comprehensive conception of the military system and its security”, Defence Minister Ghazi Jeribi said. “This structure will replace the General Administration of Military Security, where it will include intelligence levels of collection and analysis of information, and a third level to determine strategy.”

“We will also create co-ordination at the level of the presidency of the government for the provision of information and analysis. Combating terrorism is not only a security approach, but also a comprehensive approach,” Jeribi added.

According to Mokhtar Ben Nasser, who runs the Tunisian Centre for Global Security Studies, the new agency’s task is to develop a comprehensive security system, and collect and analyse intelligence.

“Now there is no longer a security system separate from the defence,” Ben Nasser noted. “As far as I know, another administration will be created at the level of the head of government that includes all parties and shall ensure co-ordination between the defence and interior ministries and adjust strategies similar to ones that exist abroad.”

The new agency “will be equipped with the latest technology to counter terrorism, espionage and communicable diseases, such as Ebola, as well as all risks lurking around the country.”

The idea of establishing an intelligence agency is not new. Ever since terrorists started successfully carrying out attacks in the country, a number of politicians have suggested the move.

At a press conference on October 29, 2013, Ahmed Najib al-Chebbi, presidential candidate of the Republican Party, suggested creating a fund to fight terrorism. It would provide the necessary equipment to security forces and the army for counter-terrorism, and combat the risk of terrorism for security personnel and the army. The fund also would establish a national agency to collect intelligence information to fight terrorism and espionage.