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Thread: Algeria Again? Contemporary affairs

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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Default Algeria Again? Contemporary affairs

    Interesting story in BBC here.

    The militants carried out a rocket attack on an army post, killing five soldiers, while 10 Islamists reportedly died in an army counter-attack.

    A BBC correspondent in Algeria says this is the most serious Islamist attack for several months.

    They are thought to belong to a group now renamed "al-Qaeda in the Maghreb".

    Earlier this week, the Salafist Group of Preaching and Combat (GSPC) announced that it had changed its name.

    This latest clash comes amid repeated calls by the army to the general population to help them in their fight against armed militants.
    This also comes after the Algerian government tried a limited amnesty program.

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    ....this older paper by ICG provides a succinct background for those unfamiliar with earlier events:

    Islamism, Violence and Reform in Algeria

    This is the third of a series of briefings and reports on Islamism in North Africa. The first provided general background on the range and diversity of Islamic activism in the region, and subsequent papers examine with respect to particular states, the outlook and strategies of the main Islamist movements and organisations, their relations with the state and each other and how they have evolved. The analysis focuses on the relationship between Islamic activism and violence, especially but not only terrorism and the problem of political reform in general and democratisation in particular.

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    Default Islamist Terrorism in Northwestern Africa

    Feb 07 Policy Focus from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy:

    Islamist Terrorism in Northwestern Africa: A 'Thorn in the Neck' of the United States?
    ...Sahelian Africa as a whole is not a hotbed of Islamic radicalism. But a unique mélange of international trends and local circumstances makes the region an attractive area of operations for Islamist terrorists. Locally, political Islam has already become a vehicle of protest against undemocratic regimes, giving rise to Islamically motivated political violence in Algeria, Nigeria, and Morocco that is still simmering. The global trend of Islamic revivalism and—on the extreme end of the spectrum—the metamorphosis and spread of al-Qaeda’s ideology have exacerbated local conflicts and flavored the expression of political grievances. As these developments intersect in northwestern Africa, they facilitate terrorists’ efforts to blend with the local population....

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    The Jamestown Foundation's Terrorism Focus, 3 Apr 07:

    Al-Qaeda and Algeria's GSPC: Part of a Much Bigger Picture
    The decision of the leaders of Algeria's Salafist Group for Call and Combat (GSPC) to pledge allegiance to Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda has been well-covered. The GSPC's proven combat capabilities, willingness to send fighters to Afghanistan, Iraq and other Islamist insurgencies, widespread presence in Western European cities, connections and working relationships to criminal enterprises in Europe and its status as a potential al-Qaeda-related threat to Western oil and natural gas supplies emanating from Algeria are all positive benefits for al-Qaeda. Beyond these tactical and strategic—at least regarding energy supplies—advantages, the GSPC's decision to join al-Qaeda is, from the latter's perspective, part of a bigger, long-labored-for and positive whole...

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    The PM's office and police station were hit FOXNews is reporting

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    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    23 killed so far. Looks like AQ-Maghreb is sending a message.

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    Council Member wm's Avatar
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    Default And what about right next door in Morocco???

    From the BBC yesterday (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/6540369.stm)
    'Bombers' die in Casablanca raid

    The police raid took place in an impoverished residential area
    A police raid on suspected militants in the Moroccan city of Casablanca has set off gunfights and suicide bombings that have left at least five men dead
    One wonders how this maps to the events in Algeria.

    I also heard that Algeria recently declined when asked to be the host country for the US AFRICOM HQ.

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    Default Al Qaeda of the Maghrib takes credit for attacks in Algeria

    In a statement posted this morning on the internet, a group calling itself Al Qaeda of the Maghrib has taken credit for a series of attacks in Algeria.

    The posting includes three photographs of the young men who they claim carried out the three suicide attacks.

    The first target was the headquarters of the apostate government in the capital Algiers where the martyr Muath Bin Jabal drove a truck filled of 700 kg of explosives storming in on the apostates in their fortress and according to our own sources killing about 45 and injuring an unknown number of them, destroying a part of the building

    The second target was the headquarters on the international INTERPOL in the capital Algiers (the gate of Zuwar) where the martyr Al-Zubeir Abu Sajeda drove a truck filled with 700 kg of explosives and he stormed in the den of the tyranny and infidelity and those who are fighting Jihad and he was able with God's blessing to destroy it completely killing at least eight apostates and injuring an unknown number of them

    The third target was the headquarters of the special forces of the Police in Ezzouar Gate in the capital where the martyr Abu Dujana drove a truck filled with 500 kg of explosives storming the apostate fortress and he was able with God's blessing to destroy it completely killing and injuring a large number of the apostates.

    http://www.lauramansfield.com/j/

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    The Economist, 12 Apr 07: The Long Arm of al-Qaeda
    ...Is all this just propaganda to revive the flagging spirits of north African insurgents, or the opening of a new front in the global jihad? Two bomb attacks against foreign oil workers in Algeria hint that the group has adopted the al-Qaeda policy of killing foreigners. But this week’s bombings in Algiers are more in keeping with the GSPC’s tradition of hitting the Algerian state.

    Still, some of al-Qaeda’s modus operandi is evident: the seven near-simultaneous bombs against security forces in February, and this week’s apparent use of suicide bombers, a rare tactic in Algeria. Many north Africans have joined Iraq’s insurgency; veterans are apparently returning to wage jihad at home or in Europe.

    The jihadists stirring next door in Morocco so far seem less proficient than their Algerian cousins. Last year King Muhammad ended military conscription and reorganised much of his security apparatus after Islamists infiltrated his armed forces. The trial of 50 people accused of trying to overthrow the monarchy is due to begin in May. Separately, security forces have been unravelling a web of militants said to have been planning suicide-bomb attacks on foreign ships, hotels and police buildings....

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    From the USMA Combating Terrorism Center:

    The GSPC: Newest Franchise in al‐Qa’ida’s Global Jihad
    The GSPC, one of the most notorious terrorist groups in North Africa, has aligned with Al‐Qa’ida and changed its name to “The Organization of al‐Qa’ida in the Land of the Islamic Maghreb.” On April 10, 2007, the new organization claimed credit for two suicide car bomb attacks in Algiers that killed 23 people. Some observers have speculated that North Africa may be the next safe‐haven for al‐Qa’ida, and that European countries may face a greater risk of attack if Algerian terrorist groups expand their base of support in Europe. The alignment of the GSPC with al‐Qa’ida represents a significant change in the group’s strategy, however, its decision to join al-Qa’ida’s global jihad should be understood as an act of desperation....
    Last edited by Jedburgh; 09-19-2008 at 02:26 AM. Reason: Updated link.

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    Default Reactions in the Algerian and Arab Press to the Al-Qaeda Attacks in Algiers

    Interesting press reaction - well worth reading the entire dispatch.

    Special Dispatch-North Africa/Jihad & Terrorism Studies Project
    April 17, 2007
    No. 1546

    Reactions in the Algerian and Arab Press to the Al-Qaeda Attacks in Algiers

    To view this Special Dispatch in HTML, visit:
    http://www.memri.org/bin/opener_latest.cgi?ID=SD154607 .

    The suicide bombings in Algeria on April 11, 2007, the first spectacular attack carried out by the Al-Qaeda Organization in the Islamic Maghreb, brought the region to the forefront of the headlines in the Arab press - especially as they occurred in tandem with a number of abortive suicide bombings in Casablanca. In Algeria, fears for the future were underscored by memories of the dark years of the 1990s, and the press was unanimous in calling for concerted action against terrorism. Many also criticized government policies, in particular the National Reconciliation plan, which aims to reintegrate radical Islamists into society.

    In the international Arab press, well-known commentator 'Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed criticized what he described as fallacious assumptions about the root causes of terrorism, saying that the terrorists are driven by religious extremism, and not by poverty, nor by the lack of democracy - which, he emphasized, they consider to be heresy.
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
    Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
    Senior Research Fellow,
    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
    Carleton University
    http://marctyrrell.com/

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    CEIP, 9 May 07: Demilitarizing Algeria
    ...With Bouteflika’s health now in question, his chances of securing a third term in 2009 are in doubt and arguments over the succession have already begun to preoccupy and divide the political/military elite. Moreover, the onset of a factional dispute over this since the summer of 2006 has coincided with a striking—and quite unexpected—recrudescence of terrorist activity. The main armed movement still active, the Salafi Group for Preaching and Combat (Groupe Salafiste pour la Prédication et le Combat, or GSPC) was previously noted for confining its attacks to the security forces and sparing civilians. Under new leaders, it has recently reverted to the indiscriminate terrorism formerly associated with the GIA while re-branding itself as a branch of Al Qaeda. With the unprecedented attack by a suicide bomber on the principal government building in central Algiers on April 11, Algerian politics has once more entered a period of uncertainty and anxiety....

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    Default From Iraq to Algeria, Al-Qaeda's Long Reach

    30 May Washington Post - From Iraq to Algeria, Al-Qaeda's Long Reach by Craig Whitlock.

    Al-Qaeda has rapidly extended its influence across North Africa by aiding and organizing local groups that are demonstrating a renewed ability to launch terrorist attacks in the region, such as the triple suicide bombings that killed 33 people here last month, according to counterterrorism officials and analysts.

    The bombers who struck the Government Palace and a police station in Algiers, the capital, are believed to have been local residents. But Algerian authorities are examining evidence that the bombers were siphoned from recruiting pipelines that have sent hundreds of North African fighters to Iraq and perhaps were trained by veterans of the Iraqi insurgency, U.S. and European intelligence officials said...

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    Default Group in Algeria Turned To Al-Qaeda for Assistance

    30 May Washington Post - Group in Algeria Turned To Al-Qaeda for Assistance by Craig Whitlock.

    Al-Qaeda's affiliate in Algeria was originally called the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, a name derived from a fundamentalist branch of Islam. Founded in 1998, six years after the outbreak of a civil war that has killed an estimated 200,000 Algerians, the group's stated mission was to topple the military-backed government and transform Algeria into a theocracy.

    Despite pledges to avoid civilian targets, the Algerian Salafists experienced a steady erosion in popular support and saw their ranks dwindle to fewer than 1,000 fighters, according to Algerian officials...

    With the organization on the ropes, Droukdel decided to intensify efforts to reach out to al-Qaeda and other extremist networks, according to U.S. and European intelligence officials...

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    The Economist, 11 Dec 07: Algeria: A Grisly Attack
    Who is killing whom in Algeria, and why? Islamic terrorism against western targets makes a certain kind of sense, and the violence in Iraq has its own grisly logic. But who were the targets of the twin-bombings in Algiers on Tuesday December 11th? One blast killed a busload of university students who happened to be passing by. The other bomb seems to have targeted the offices of the United Nations Development Programme, one of the more apolitical of the organisation’s many bodies.

    Algeria has suffered a spate of violence in the past year. This has usually been explained as a hangover from Algeria’s particularly brutal civil war in the 1990s. But the nature of Tuesday’s attack suggests a more worrying culprit: an alliance, announced last year, between local Islamic terrorists and al-Qaeda. Nearly simultaneous multiple bombings, aimed at maximising terror rather than hitting specific political targets, has become a calling card of the international terrorist group....
    The Long War Journal, 11 Dec 07: Al Qaeda hits UN offices, courts, police station in Algiers
    ....Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb most certainly conducted the Algiers bombings. The mode of attack - coordinated bombings against government and international institutions designed to inflict massive casualties and maximum media coverage - is al Qaeda's specialties. The North African branch of al Qaeda has taken credit for similar strikes in the past.

    On April 11, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb took credit for a pair of coordinated suicide bombings in the capital. A powerful bomb was detonated outside the headquarters of Prime Minister Abdelaziz Belkhadem's headquarters in Algiers, and another blast occurred outside the headquarters of the security forces.

    Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb took credit for two suicide attacks in Algeria over the course of three days in September. The first attack targeted the Algerian president during a visit to the town of Batna while the second attack targeted a coast guard barracks in Dellys in eastern Algeria. At least 69 were killed and 154 were wounded in the suicide bombings.

    Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb is the result of Al Qaeda's efforts to unite the various Salafist terror groups in North Africa and stems from the merger of the Algerian Salafist Group for Prayer and Combat (GSPC), the Moroccan Islamic Combat Group, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, and the Tunisian Combatant Group. The GSPC forms the nucleus of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.....

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    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
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    Default Without really knowing

    Quote Originally Posted by Jedburgh View Post
    The Economist, 11 Dec 07: Algeria: A Grisly Attack

    The Long War Journal, 11 Dec 07: Al Qaeda hits UN offices, courts, police station in Algiers
    I would posit that AQ and others are as aware of history in that area as we are and as such may see it as an area in which more effective recruiting of individuals with historic experience in their arena.

    Simplistic view I know but a possibility non-the-less

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    The Jamestown Foundation's Terrorism Monitor, 7 Feb 08:

    The Ideological Struggle Over al-Qaeda’s Suicide Tactics in Algeria
    On January 29, a lorry laden with 1,400 lbs of explosives and driven by a member of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) was detonated in the town of Thenia, east of Algiers, killing four and wounding an additional 23 people. The target of the attack was the police barracks in the center of town, and among the dead was a police officer who has been heralded for preventing the bomber from detonating at his targeted location. While this attack did not result in the high casualty figures seen in AQIM’s previous suicide attacks, such as the December 11 bombing of the United Nations and Constitutional Court in Algiers, this attack constitutes yet another in an unpopular series of suicide bombings conducted by AQIM that have resulted in casualty figures not seen since Algeria’s civil war. In a subsequent statement issued by AQIM on January 30, the group claimed responsibility for the attack and addressed the ideological and societal tension brewing over the group's continued use of this tactic in Algeria. Despite the unpopularity of suicide bombings in Algeria and the development of an appealing counter-narrative by members of the ulema (body of Islamic scholars), it appears AQIM is positioned to carry on with its suicide bombing campaign, particularly as the group absorbs fighters returning from Iraq......

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    The Jamestown Foundation's Terrorism Focus, 5 Aug 08:

    Restructuring al-Qaeda’s Algerian Insurgency
    Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the North African branch of al-Qaeda, has been driven to the wall. Despite a new suicide attack that injured 25 on Sunday morning in Tizi Ouzou, Kabylie, the Algerian-based group is facing difficulties that could endanger its very existence. The number of militants is shrinking due to continuous military operations and difficulties in recruiting new volunteers. International anti-terrorism cooperation is also drying up sources of financing.

    Since the beginning of 2008, Algerian authorities, with the help of neighboring countries, have arrested or killed more than 200 AQIM members, according to security sources. The great majority of these individuals were affiliated to support networks, while about thirty were active terrorists.

    The strategy of the People’s National Army (Armée Nationale Populaire - ANP) to focus mainly on key figures of AQIM has proven largely successful.....

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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Default Speaking of Algeria...

    A nice round-up of stories on current events in that country.

    link.
    Algeria's unease

    bbc Wednesday, August 20, 2008 8:23:00 PM CEST More about this article...

    Other categories:Security; TerroristAttack;

    The Algerian rebels are thought to have remained focused on fighting their own government, while drawing on international Islamist grievances to raise their profile and attract new recruits. Meanwhile, the Algerian government has insisted the rebels are on the verge of being eliminated....
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

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    The Economist, 11 Sep 08: A real network of terror?
    Two years ago a ruthless Algerian terrorist outfit, the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, better known by its French abbreviation, GSPC, announced it was joining al-Qaeda. Since then, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), as the group is now known in counter-terrorism circles, has stepped up a bombing campaign in Algeria and claimed responsibility for operations in several other North African countries. Last month the Moroccan government said it had broken up a terrorist cell with links to the group, while Algeria has toughened its security measures since more than 70 people were killed in attacks by AQIM in the last two weeks of August. The emergence of a powerful regional group of Islamist insurgents, recruiting members from among the millions of religious and poor North Africans, is rattling all the governments in the region and raises the unnerving prospect of a new wave of North African bombers heading for the cities of western Europe. But does AQIM really exist as a co-ordinated regional organisation?

    So far there is little evidence that it does......

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