Abdella Ahmad Tounisi: American Teen Arrested For Wanting to Fight Assad Regime

Abdella Ahmad Tounisi, an Illinois teenager, has been accused of supporting the international terrorist organization Al-Qaeda and withholding the truth from federal authorities. Tounisi made several posts online to a website that appeared to belong to the Al-Nusra Front radical militant group, but was secretly set up by the FBI. In his postings, Tounisi stated that he would travel to Syria and help the group fight. Shortly after he was arrested at O'Hare International Airport as he allegedly attempted to reach Jabhat al-Nusrah and fulfill the plans he had made on the Internet. Tounisi has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him. However, if convicted, he could face up to 23 years in prison.

It cannot be denied that ever since the 9/11 attacks, changes in U.S. security were needed in order to protect civil society, and that includes strict monitoring of terrorist suspects and the ability to detain them if deemed necessary. Therefore, it may seem perfectly logical to applaud the government for successfully preventing Tounisi from joining terrorist forces. However, that is actually quite debatable considering how hypocritical the American government is.

While the government has put several new laws and acts into force in order to diminish the abilities of terrorists, it itself has not been following them. President Obama has demanded the authority to detain anyone who supports Al-Qaeda, even those who are not U.S. citizens or residing in the country. Additionally, the National Defense Authorization Act has been created, which allows President Obama to kill anyone he considers a terrorist.

One would assume that because of these laws, the U.S. government would never consider aiding Al-Qaeda. However, that is not necessarily the case. Links have been made between the government and militant forces in both Syria and Libya. It has been claimed that the U.S. is supporting these Al-Qaeda forces through funding the provision of weaponry and communications equipment. Even if the claims are false and the U.S. is not providing direct support, the government is still not preventing these terrorists from receiving supplies.

And if Obama is supporting Al-Qaeda, would it not be fair to detain and kill him? According to the acts he himself passed, he is guilty of associating with a terrorist organization. If Tounisi is going to be thrown in jail for aiding Al-Qaeda members in Syria for up to 23 years, it only seems just that Obama joins him.

Not too long ago, the government was seeking support in order to combat Al-Qaeda groups in Iraq and Afghanistan. Trillions of taxpayers' hard earnings were spent and an unimaginable number of soldiers and civilians lost their lives. Now, just a few years later, the U.S. government is either supporting a branch of the group it just fought or not putting in enough effort to wipe out this branch. 

It is time to draw the line, America. It is a shame for the government to contradict itself over such an important safety issue and receive approval from civil society. We must stand up against this hypocrisy and encourage the government to get its act together.

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Lauren Clark

Lauren is an International Studies major at Fordham University at Lincoln Center in New York City. She is currently studying abroad at King's College in London. Her interests include national security, terrorism, religion, health care, and women's rights. In her free time she loves to travel, learn new languages, and discover healthy food alternatives for vegetarians.

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