Tunisia: 5 Arrested in Plot to Kidnap Jew

Four Libyans, Tunisian policeman suspected of plotting to kidnap a young Jew and hold him for ransom.

Gil Ronen,

Riot in Djerba (file)
Riot in Djerba (file)

Four Libyans and a Tunisian policeman have been arrested on suspicion of plotting to kidnap a young Jew and hold him for ransom, a senior police officer said on Thursday.

The officer, declining to be named, told AFP the five were arrested in Zarzis, southern Tunisia based on the confessions of the policeman who had been recruited by four Libyans. They were being detained in a jail near Tunis.

The aim was to demand a ransom, he said, ruling out any religious motivation.

Interior ministry spokesman Khaled Tarrouche said the five suspects were planning to kidnap "one or two Jews from well-off families to obtain a ransom," but he did not identify those arrested.

 According to official figures, some 200 members of Tunisia's 1,500-strong Jewish community live in Zarzis.

Acts of anti-Semitism are rare in Tunisia, where anti-Jewish slogans raised during an Islamist protest in March caused a public outcry.

However, a 2001 attack claimed by Al-Qaeda on a synagogue in Djerba, north of Zarzis, killed 21 people. The National Security Council issued a warning against visiting Tunisia earlier this year.