Template:Infobox War Faction The Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM),[1] (Template:Lang-ar Template:Transl) is a Mali-based Islamist militant organization which aims to overthrow the Algerian government and institute an Islamic state.[2] To that end, it is currently engaged in an insurgent campaign.

The group has declared its intention to attack Algerian, Spanish, French, and American targets. It has been designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the U.S. Department of State, and similarly classed as a terrorist organization by the European Union.

Membership is mostly drawn from the Algerian Kabyle and the South Moroccan Sahrawi communities.[3] Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb is heavily involved in drug trafficking, smuggling as well as other criminal activities.[4]

Names[edit | edit source]

It was previously known as the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (Template:Lang-ar Template:Transl, in Template:Lang-fr, GSPC, and also known as the Group for Call and Combat)

History[edit | edit source]

The GSPC was founded by Hassan Hattab, a former Armed Islamic Group (GIA) regional commander who broke with the GIA in 1998 in protest over the GIA's slaughter of civilians. After an amnesty in 1999, many former GIA fighters laid down their arms, but a few remained active, including members of the GSPC.[5]

Estimates of the number of GSPC members vary widely, from a few hundred to as many as 4,000.[6] In September 2003, it was reported that Hattab had been deposed as national emir of the GSPC and replaced by Nabil Sahraoui (Sheikh Abou Ibrahim Mustapha), a 39 year-old former GIA commander who was subsequently reported to have pledged GSPC's allegiance to al-Qaeda,[7] a step which Hattab had opposed.[5][8] Following the death of Sahraoui in June 2004, Abu Musab Abdel Wadoud became the leader of the GSPC.[9] Abdelmadjid Dichou is also reported to have headed the group.[10]

A splinter or separate branch of Hattab's group, the Free Salafist Group (GSL), headed by El Para, was linked to the kidnapping of 32 European tourists in Algeria in early 2003.[5] Other sources[who?] illustrate the involvement of the Algerian intelligence services in exaggerating the claims about terrorist threats in the Sahara, and the supposed alliance between this group and Al-Qaeda. Some of the reputation of El Para is also attributed to the Algerian government, as a possible employer, and it has been alleged that certain key events, such as kidnappings, were staged, and that there was a campaign of deception and disinformation originated by the Algerian government and perpetuated by the media.[11][12]

By March 2005, it was reported that the GSPC "may be prepared to give up the armed struggle in Algeria and accept the government's reconciliation initiative."[13] in March 2005, the group's former leader, Hassan Hattab, called on its members to accept a government amnesty under which they were offered immunity from prosecution in return for laying down their arms.[14] However, in September 2006, the top Al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahri announced a "blessed union" between the groups in declaring France an enemy. They said they would work together against French and American interests.[15] In January 2007, the group announced a formal change of name to al-Qaeda.[16]

On 19 January 2009, the The Sun reported that there had been an outbreak of bubonic plague at a GSPC training camp in the Tizi Ouzou province in Algeria. According to the Sun, at least forty GSPC militias died from the disease. The surviving GSPC members from the training camp reportedly fled to other areas of Algeria hoping to escape infection.[17] The Washington Times, in an article based on only a single, anonymous source, claimed a day later that the incident was not related to bubonic plague, but was an accident involving either a biological or chemical agent.[18]

Speculation about international links[edit | edit source]

File:GSPC map.png

GSPC Area of Operations and Pan-Sahel Initiative nations

Algerian officials and authorities from neighbouring countries have speculated that the GSPC may be active outside Algeria. These activities may relate to the GSPC's alleged long-standing involvement with smuggling, protection rackets, and money laundering across the borders of Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Libya and Chad, possibly to underpin the group's finances.[5] However, recent developments seem to indicate that a splinter group may have sought refuge in the Tuareg regions of northern Mali and Niger following crackdowns by Algerian government forces in the north and south of the country since 2003. French secret services report that the group has received funding from the country of Qatar.[19]

Reports also claim that AQIM has members of Polisario in its ranks.[20] There is some logic in this: Polisario is a leftist movement for self-government of the Western Sahara, refuting the royal claim of Morocco on the Western Sahara. And Qutbist ideals lead AQIM to have similar ideas about all Muslims being equal, seeing the West-African Malikite version of Islam as feudal and therefore at odds with the ideals of the prophet Mohammed. Polisario also fights against the Moroccan crown, who'se claim on the Western Sahara is rooted in Malikite Islamic mythology.

Some observers, including Jeremy Keenan, have voiced doubts regarding the GSPC's capacity to carry out large-scale attacks, such as the one attributed to it in northeastern Mauritania during the "Flintlock 2005" military exercise.[21] They suspect the involvement of Algeria's Department of Intelligence and Security in an effort to improve Algeria's international standing as a credible partner in the War on Terrorism, and to lure the United States into the region.[11]

Allegations of GSPC links to al-Qaeda predate the September 11, 2001 attacks. As followers of a Qutbist strand of jihadist Salafism, the members of the GSPC are thought to share al-Qaeda's general ideological outlook. After the deposition of Hassan Hattab, various leaders of the group pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda. Some observers have argued that the GSPC's connection to al-Qaeda is merely opportunistic, not operational. Claims of GSPC activities in Italy[22] are disputed by other sources, who say that there is no evidence of any engagement in terrorist activities against US, European or Israeli targets: "While the GSPC ... established support networks in Europe and elsewhere, these have been limited to ancillary functions (logistics, fund-raising, propaganda), not acts of terrorism or other violence outside Algeria."[5] Investigations in France and Britain have concluded that young Algerian immigrants sympathetic to the GSPC or al-Qaeda have taken up the name without any real connection to either group.[6]

Similar claims of links between the GSPC and Abu Musab Al Zarqawi in Iraq[23] are based on purported letters to Zarqawi by GSPC leader Abu Musab Abdel Wadoud.[24] In a September 2005 interview, Wadoud hailed Zarqawi's actions in Iraq.[9] Like the GSPC's earlier public claims of allegiance to al-Qaeda, they are thought to be opportunistic legitimisation efforts of the GSPC's leaders due to the lack of representation in Algeria's political sphere.[5]

In 2005, after years of absence, the United States showed renewed military interest in the region[25][26] through involvement in the "Flintlock 2005" exercise, which involved US Special Forces training soldiers from Algeria, Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, and Chad. The United States alleged that the Sahel region had become a training ground for Islamist recruits.[27] However, the two most important pieces of evidence of 'terrorist activity' – the tourist kidnapping of 2003 and the attack on the Mauritanian army base just as "Flintlock" got underway – have subsequently been called into question.[21][28]

Observers say that the region's governments have much to gain from associating[29] local armed movements and long-established smuggling operations with al-Qaeda and the global "War on Terrorism".[21] In June 2005, while the "Flintlock" exercise was still underway, Mauritania asked "Western countries interested in combating the terrorist surge in the African Sahel to supply it with advanced military equipment."[30]

In November 2007 Nigerian authorities arrested five men for alleged possession of seven sticks of dynamite and other explosives. Nigerian prosecutors alleged that three of the accused had trained for two years with the then Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat in Algeria.[31] In January 2008 the Dakar Rally was cancelled due to threats made by associated terrorist organizations.

In later 2011, the splinter group Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa was founded in order to spread jihadi activities further into West Africa.

Statements[edit | edit source]

According to London-based risk analysis firm Stirling Assynt, AQIM issued a call for vengeance against Beijing for mistreatment of its Muslim minority following the July 2009 Ürümqi riots.[32]

AQIM voiced support for demonstrations against the Tunisian and Algerian Governments in a video released on 13 January 2011. Al Qaeda offered military aid and training to the demonstrators, calling on them to overthrow "the corrupt, criminal and tyrannical" regime, calling for "retaliation" against the Tunisian government, and also calling for the overthrow of Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika. AQIM leader Abu Musab Abdul Wadud appeared in the video, calling for Islamic sharia law to be established in Tunisia.[33] Al Qaeda has begun recruiting anti-government demonstrators, some of whom have previously fought against American forces in Iraq and Israeli forces in Gaza.[34]

AQIM has also endorsed popular efforts in Libya to topple the regime of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, though it remains unclear how many (if any) fighters in Libya are loyal to al-Qaeda. Gaddafi seized on the expression of support for the rebel movement to blame al-Qaeda for fomenting rebellion.[35]

Major attacks since 2002[edit | edit source]

  • 23 November 2002: a group of Algerian soldiers are ambushed. Nine died and twelve were wounded.[citation needed]
  • February 2003: 32 European tourists are kidnapped. One died, seventeen hostages were rescued by Algerian troops on 13 May 2003, and the remainder were released in August 2003.[citation needed]
  • 12 February 2004: near Tighremt, Islamic extremists ambush a police patrol, killing seven police officers and wounding three others. The assailants also seized firearms and three vehicles.[36]
  • 7 April 2005: in Tablat, Blida Province, armed assailants fire on five vehicles at a fake road block, killing 13 civilians, wounding one other and burning five vehicles.[37]
  • 15 October 2006: in Sidi Medjahed, Ain Defla, assailants attack and kill eight private security guards by unknown means.[38]
  • 30 July 2009: at least 11 Algerian soldiers are killed in an ambush while escorting a military convoy outside the coastal town of Damous, near Tipaza.[39]
  • March 2010: an Italian national, Sergio Cicala, and his wife are held hostage.[40]
  • 21 March 2010: three militants are killed by security forces near El Ma Labiod, 35 km from Tebessa.
  • 26 March 2010: three militants are killed and another captured by security forces in Ait Yahia Moussa, 30 km from Tizi Ouzou.[citation needed]
  • 14 April 2010: according to Algerian officials, at least ten militants are killed during a counter-terrorist operation in Bordj Bou Arreridj wilaya.[citation needed]
  • 16 September 2010: seven employees from Areva and Vinci are kidnapped in Arlit, Niger (five French, one Togolan and one Malagasy). The capture was claimed[citation needed] on 21 September by AQIM in a communiqué published in Al Jazeera.(Al Jazeera) (CTC West Point)
  • 9 December 2011: AQIM publishes two photos,[41] showing five kidnapped persons from European descent.[citation needed]

Edwin Dyer[edit | edit source]

Edwin Dyer was one of four Westerners who were kidnapped when their convoy was ambushed near the border between Niger and Mali in January 2009 by an African terrorist group calling itself Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, militia which aims to overthrow the Algerian government. Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb made demands that the British government must release Abu Qatada, the Jordanian known as Osama bin Laden's right-hand man in Europe, or Dyer would face execution.

In 2003, 32 Europeans were taken hostage in the Sahara in a series of abductions run by El Para, an agent of the Algerian intelligence service, the DRS. In February 2008 two Austrians were captured in Tunisia and taken via Algeria to Mali and freed later that year. Two Canadian diplomats were taken hostage in south-western Niger in December 2008 while on official UN mission to resolve crisis in northern Niger. They were freed in Mali in April 2009. Diplomat Robert Fowler later stated that the government of Niger could be behind the kidnapping. These all kidnappings were attributed to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb previously known as the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC).[42]

On 31 May 2009 the terrorist group released a statement on a known terrorist website claiming to have executed Dyer. Edwin Dyer's murder was confirmed by the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Gordon Brown on 3 June 2009 after reports on an Islamist website that he had been killed. Prime Minister Gordon Brown condemned what he called an "appalling and barbaric act of terrorism" in Prime Ministers Questions on 6 March 2009.

Mr. Dyer spoke fluent German and had been working in Austria. He was kidnapped in Niger on 22 January, close to the border with Mali.

He was captured along with a number of other European tourists, including two Swiss and one German. The group had been visiting the Anderamboukane festival on nomad culture. All of the other tourists were eventually released. Werner Greiner, a fellow victim of the kidnap revealed to The Daily Telegraph on 19 September 2009 that Edwyn Dyer 'saved his life' forcing him to eat and drink when he was at his weakest, arguing with his kidnappers to bring him medicine, and persuading him that no matter how hard things were, hope should never be abandoned.

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Watson, Rob. "Algeria blasts fuel violence fears", BBC News, 11 April 2007. Retrieved 22 April 2007.Jean-Pierre Filiu, "Local and global jihad: Al-Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghrib", The Middle East Journal,Vol.63, spring 2009.
  2. "Introduction ::Algeria". https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ag.html. 
  3. http://www.iai.it/pdf/DocIAI/iaiwp1107.pdf
  4. http://csis.org/files/publication/110901_Thornberry_AQIM_WEB.pdf
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 Islamism, Violence and Reform in Algeria: Turning the Page (Islamism in North Africa III) International Crisis Group Report, 30 July 2004[dead link]
  6. 6.0 6.1 BBC Documentary about increased US military focus on the Sahara region. August 2005.
  7. Algerian group backs al-Qaeda, BBC News, 23 October 2003
  8. Interview with the Former Leader of the Salafist Group for Call and Combat, Ash-Sharq al-Awsat, 17 October 2005
  9. 9.0 9.1 Interview with Abu Musab Abdel Wadoud, commander of the GSPC, 26 September 2005 (globalterroralert.com website) (pdf)[dead link]
  10. "Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC)", Terrorist Organizations, World Statesman. Retrieved 8 September 2007.
  11. 11.0 11.1 El Para, the Maghreb’s Bin Laden – who staged the tourist kidnappings? by Salima Mellah and Jean-Baptiste Rivoire, Le Monde Diplomatique, February 2005
  12. Jeremy Keenan
  13. Georges Rassi, "End of Insurgency", al-Mustaqbal, as reported in MidEast Mirror, 24 March 2005. Quoted in Islamist Terrorism in the Sahel: Fact or Fiction?
  14. Top Algerian Islamist slams Qaeda group, urges peace, Reuters, 30 March 2006[dead link]
  15. "Al-Qaida joins Algerians against France", AP, 14 September 2006
  16. Brand al-Qaeda, Sydney Morning Herald, 28 January 2007
  17. West, Alex, "Deadliest Weapon So Far...The Plague", The Sun, 19 January 2009.
  18. Lake, Eli, Al Qaeda Bungles Arms Experiment, Washington Times, 20 January 2009, p. 1.
  19. Deep Read: Malian tinderbox - A dangerous puzzle. July 9, 2012.
  20. http://mideast.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/01/03/unlikely_bedfellows_are_some_saharan_marxists_joining_al_qaida_operations_in_north_
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 US targets Sahara 'terrorist haven', BBC News, 8 August 2005
  22. GSPC in Italy: The Forward Base of Jihad in Europe by Kathryn Haar, Jamestown Foundation, 9 February 2006)[dead link]
  23. "‘The Al-Qaeda Organization in the Islamic Maghreb’: The Evolving Terrorist Presence in North Africa", Inquiry and Analysis, Middle East Media Research Institute, 7 March 2007. Retrieved 8 September 2007.
  24. Algerian terror group seeks Zarqawi's help, UPI 2 May 2006
  25. General Sees Expanding Strategic Role for U.S. European Command In Africa by Charles Cobb Jr., American Enterprise Institute, 16 April 2004 Archived 28 June 2007 at WebCite
  26. Africa Command Not European Command, Says Official by Charles Cobb Jr., American Enterprise Institute, 4 May 2004 Archived 28 June 2007 at WebCite
  27. DoD Press Release about the "Flintlock 2005" military exercise, 17 June 2005[dead link]
  28. L'attaque contre la garnison de Lemgheity toujours à la une, Panapress, Jeune Afrique, 16 June 2005
  29. Un Marocain arrêté en Mauritanie pour terrorisme, La Libération (Casablanca), 8 June 2006
  30. Mauritanian authorities transform Lemgheity post into military base, Al-Akhbar website in Arabic 1410 gmt 22 Jun 5, BBC Monitoring Service.
  31. "Five Nigerians on terror charges". BBC News. 23 November 2007. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/7108629.stm. Retrieved 23 April 2010. 
  32. "China demands Turkish retraction". BBC News. 14 July 2009. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/8149379.stm. Retrieved 14 July 2009. 
  33. ennahar (14 January 2011). "Al-Qaeda supports the events in Tunisia and Algeria". Ennaharonline/ M. O.. http://www.ennaharonline.com/en/news/5541.html. Retrieved 15 January 2011. 
  34. Adem Amine in Algiers and Jamel Arfaoui in Tunis for Magharebia (13 January 2011). "AQIM leader exploits Tunisia, Algeria unrest". Magharebia. http://www.magharebia.com/cocoon/awi/xhtml1/en_GB/features/awi/features/2011/01/13/feature-01. Retrieved 15 January 2011. 
  35. Cruickshank, Paul (25 February 2011). "Libya: An opportunity for al Qaeda?". CNN International. Archived from the original on 25 February 2011. http://wayback.archive.org/web/20110225053322/http://edition.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/africa/02/25/libya.jihad/. Retrieved 27 February 2011. 
  36. View Incident[dead link]
  37. View Incident[dead link]
  38. View Incident[dead link]
  39. Yahoo! Search – Web Search
  40. Italian held by Qaeda makes plea to Berlusconi govt – INQUIRER.net, Philippine News for Filipinos
  41. Agence Nouakchott d'Information (ANI) 9 December 2011
  42. http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/jeremy-keenan-wests-madeup-terror-links-to-blame-for-killing-1696415.html West's made-up terror links to blame for killing (The Independent, 2009)

Further reading[edit | edit source]

  • Lecocq, Baz; Schrijver, Paul (2007). "The War on Terror in a Haze of Dust: Potholes and Pitfalls on the Saharan Front". Journal of Contemporary African Studies 25 (1): 141–166. doi:10.1080/02589000601157147. 

External links[edit | edit source]

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ar:تنظيم القاعدة في بلاد المغرب الاسلامي bg:Ал-Каида в Ислямския Магреб ca:Al-Qaida del Magrib Islàmic cy:Cyfundrefn Al-Qaeda yn y Maghreb Islamaidd de:Al-Qaida im Maghreb es:Al Qaeda del Magreb Islámico eu:Islamiar Magrebeko Al Kaida fr:Al-Qaida au Maghreb islamique it:Gruppo Salafita per la Predicazione e il Combattimento he:אל-קאעידה במגרב האסלאמי nl:Al-Qaida in de Islamitische Maghreb ja:AQIM no:Salafist Group for Call and Combat pt:Al Qaida no Magreb Islâmico ru:Аль-Каида в странах исламского Магриба simple:Al-Quaeda Organisation in the Islamic Mahgreb fi:Al-Qaida islamilaisessa Maghrebissa th:กลุ่มซาลาฟิสต์เพื่อการเรียกร้องและการสู้รบ

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