Sunday 23 October 2016

‘I am so ashamed for me and his mother’, says dad of beach gunman

As the aftermath of the Tunisia beach massacre unravels, more is being learned about the “warped” gunman, student Seifeddine Rezgui.

On Friday, Kalashnikov-wielding Rezgui indiscriminately opened fire on a beach full of sun-bathing tourists. His father has since spoken of his shame and has apologised for the 23-year-old’s actions, saying that he had found the news difficult to “comprehend”.

“My God, I am so shocked. I don’t know who has contacted him, influenced him or who has put these ideas in his head. He has new friends who got him into this,” Hakim Rezgui said.

“My son had no problem with anyone. But I don’t know who has changed his mind, influenced him and who has warped his mind. I wish there had been no victims, no one hurt.

“I wish it had never happened. Because when I see the victims I think it could have been my own family,” he added.

“I had no idea and I am really sorry. I am upset to see those victims. I feel the loss of the families so strongly. I feel like I have died along with the victims. I am so ashamed for me, for his mother, for all our family.”

The gunman’s aunt, Zara Rezgui, described him as a “blank page”, but a kind, calm, “normal boy” who spent most of the time alone.

British tourist Angela Inwood recalled seeing the killer shortly before his rampage, and recognising him as “ugly” following the massacre. It has been reported that police divers also claim to have located what they say is the attacker’s phone.

Since the attack, videos have emerged of Rezgui – barefoot and dressed in a black T-shirt and shorts – clutching a gun and running across the beach.

Other footage also shows Rezgui break-dancing, and he has been reported as being well-known for entering competitions in the capital Tunis. Referring to the practice of devout Muslim men not shaving their beards Ali Al-Rezgui, the gunman’s uncle, said:  “He didn’t even have a beard. We were all shocked when we heard the news and saw his picture, and his mother was devastated.”

Seifeddine Rezgui came from the town of Gaafour in the Siliana region, the country’s prime minister Habib Essid said yesterday.

He had been a student at the University of Kairouan and had never travelled abroad.

Rezgui’s uncle said he was “just like the other young men” who liked to play football or go to a cafe after praying in the local mosque.

While neighbours suggested the gunman may have been brainwashed, other reports said Rezgui had posted extremist messages on social media, praising jihad.

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