Tuesday 23 January 2018

Extremists ruined my son, says father of beach gunman

An image of Seifeddine Rezgui which was made available on Twitter by the Tunisian branch
of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil)
An image of Seifeddine Rezgui which was made available on Twitter by the Tunisian branch of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil)
Abdul-Hakeem Rezgui, father of the Tunisian gunman

Hassan Morajea and Gordon Rayner

The father of Tunisian gunman Seifeddine Rezgui said last night Islamist extremists had "ruined my son's brain" as he spoke of his shock at the tourist massacre.

Abdul-Hakeem Rezgui returned home after spending two days in police custody to say he had no inkling of what his 23-year-old son was planning.

Speaking outside the family home in Gaafour, near Tunis, Mr Rezgui said: "These people ruined my son's brain with horrid thoughts and ideas. They broke him.

"I don't know what to say, I don't know anything. I didn't know what he was doing. That's what I told the police and that's what I'm telling you.

"People keep asking me for information and I don't know what to tell them. I was completely taken aback by the news of what my son had done.

"I had just got back from work at 11.30am - I work in the railway lines. I went to sleep as it's Ramadan and I was fasting, then at 4pm the police came to my house and said they needed me to come with them. I asked why and they said, 'Haven't you been watching the news?' and that's when they told me.

"I was shocked, of course, I didn't realise it was even happening. He's been going to university and doing well, and that's all I knew."

A video of Seifeddine Rezgui breakdancing emerged yesterday as Tunisia's security services tried to understand what transformed him into an Isil-inspired terrorist.

Rezgui loved music and street dancing, and was filmed showing off his energetic dance moves for the camera five years ago in a video posted on YouTube. He had been studying engineering in Kairouan, about 50km from Sousse, where Friday's massacre took place.

One of his fellow students said Rezgui had acted normally in his first year and was an excellent student. But there was a change in him after that, and he spent more and more time with an extremist Salafi Muslim group that advocates jihad. He became close to its leader, called Rashed.

Rauf Alsaaidy, assistant secretary-general of the General Union of Tunisian Students, said Rezgui had belonged to another student union with strong ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.

He added: "He was a normal guy in his first year in the university, according to fellow students. He was studious until he joined this Islamic student union.

"He used to support and participate in the Islamist campaign [in] the student elections. He also used to participate in Dawa [preaching of Islam] tents in front of the university." (© Daily Telegraph, London)


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