The neglected, desert area of Tunisia where the "Star Wars" movie was filmed in 1976, has become a way-station for jihadists crossing the Libyan border less than 100 kilometers (60 miles) to the east, CNN reports.
Three young men were arrested near the town of Tataouine early this month as they allegedly made plans to cross into Libya to join a terrorist network. Director George Lucas used the name for his barren planet of "Tatooine" in the movie.
Shortly after the men were apprehended, terrorists attacked the Bardo Museum in Tunis, killing 20 tourists. The two gunmen had crossed illicitly into Libya in December and received weapons training in the ISIS Libyan stronghold of Derna, according to Tunisian State Security Minister Rafik Chelly.
Two arms caches have also been found in the region this month, one of which included rocket-propelled grenade launchers and more than 20,000 rounds of ammunition.
The Tunisians are doing what they can to secure the area. A two kilometer no-go zone now runs inside the border and fortified positions have been positioned every couple of miles. The security presence has been boosted considerably, but it's still insufficient for a border that is over 600 kilometers long.
The fears of jihadist radicalization and infiltration have damaged Tunisia's vital tourism sector. Last year, in a bid to boost flagging tourist numbers, Tunisia's government sponsored videos with actors dressed up as "Star Wars" and shot in various parts of Tunisia, including the sets where the films were shot.
The "Star Wars" remake, currently being overseen by director J.J. Abrams, has already chosen to relocate "Tatooine" to the wealthy Persian Gulf emirate of Abu Dhabi, far from the land that gave it its name.
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