FBI agents are arriving in Tunisia to assist in the interrogation of a Tunisian suspected of involvement in the deadly attack on a US consulate in neighboring Libya, a Tunisian government official said.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation team was en route to Tunis, the capital, yesterday after a Tunisian magistrate investigating suspected radical Ali Ani al-Harzi agreed to let the US provide its “techniques and expertise” for interrogating terror suspects, Tunisian Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Hedi Ben Abbes said in an interview in Bloomberg’s Washington office.
The decision to accept US involvement eased what threatened to become a flashpoint between two nations. Two Republican US senators, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, had said denying access could damage relations and might result in an aid cutoff to the North African state, where the so-called Arab Spring democracy movement began. The two lawmakers yesterday hailed the decision to allow FBI access.
Tunisia’s action reflects a broad “decision at the highest level to engage in full cooperation with the United States” in many areas, Ben Abbes, the No. 2 official at the foreign ministry and a member of President Moncef Marzouki’s secular center-left political party, said yesterday.
“Tunisians will never forget the support the United States expressed at the very beginning of the revolution when other nations were hesitant,” he said, referring to President Barack Obama’s support for the pro-democracy uprising that began in Tunisia almost two years ago.