Tunisian officials blame Boubaker Hakim for recent assassinations. Photo: Plasticsturgeon, Flickr
"The first findings of the investigation have shown the involvement of Boubaker Hakim, an extremist Salafist activist." These were the words that the Tunisian Minister of the Interior selected during a press conference on Friday to describe the No. 1 suspect in the murder of the opposition figure Mohamed Brahmi. Boubaker Hakim, 30, is "among the most internationally dangerous, wanted terrorists," added the minister, amid a certain amount of skepticism in Tunisia.
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The Franco-Tunisian, listed as "expatriate worker", was already wanted in Tunisia for possession and trafficking of weapons, said Minister Lotfi Ben Jeddou . He recently escaped from the police who stormed his home. "He fled, leaving his personal belongings and weapons," said Taieb Mustapha Ben Amor, director of public safety. "Firearms, two pipe bombs, ammunition, a gun and knives were seized," he said.
Boubaker Hakim is also linked to the murder of Chokri Belaïd, another opposition figure who was assassinated a few months ago with the same weapon that killed Mohamed Brahmi. The Ministry of the Interior referred to "the same procedure: gunmen on a scooter".
Boubaker Hakim is not a stranger, and the Tunisian site Nawaat traced his route. He was born in Paris to Tunisian parents in August 1983. He began to turn an Islamist at the age of 18 and is considered a product of the "Iraqi jihadist industry”.
Hakim’s brother Redouane went to Iraq in 2004 and is considered "the first French jihadist to be killed in Iraq." At the time Boubakeur Hakim was intercepted on the Syrian border and subsequently served a prison sentence in Syria before being returned to France.
Boubakeur Hakim is particularly linked with the smuggling of weapons from Libya.
But despite the authorities’ announcements, families and supporters of Mohamed Chokri Belaïd Brahmi accuse the ruling Islamist party Ennahda of being linked with the murders. The party vehemently denies this but protesters Friday chanted "Ghannouchi assassin" and "It is today that the government must fall" in the streets of Tunis.
Vincent Geisser, a political scientist specializing in Tunisia at the French Institute of the Middle East in Beirut, does not believe Ennahda is responsible. "People have an interest in stirring up trouble in Tunisia, to generate radicalization, panicking and cutting short the dialogue."