al Qaeda strike at French-Algerian rapprochement?
By Walid Phares
December 11, 2007
Here are few remarks about the bombings in Algeria
An Al Qaeda link?
Most experts in Algeria and the Arab world believe
this terror campaign is either inspired or ordered by al
Qaeda in the Maghreb. Even if the execution is
perpetrated by local Jihadist groups it is part of the
Salafist general offensive against Algeria's Government
and an extension to the North African operations by al
Qaeda Maghreb in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Mauritania
and possibly later Libya. This attack in Algeria today
is linked to the regional strategy of weakening the
Algerian Government in general and resuming the 1990s
warfare against Kufr (infdidel) institutions, society
and Government. But unlike in the past decade, today's
operations are strategically coordinated with al Qaeda
central, not in terms of operations but policies and
international decision making. However I believe that
this particular attack is a response to the recent visit
by French President Nicholas Sarkozy to Algeria. It is
directed against the number of agreements signed by the
Government of Abdelaziz Bouteflika with the Paris
presidential delegation. The Jihadist incitement against
the Algerian authorities, including mostly via the al
jazeera shows, usually indicates the trends to come.
Algiers was accused by the Salafi forces as "betraying
the Muslim world and associating with French kuffar."
The strikes came in line with this incitement.
Since the beginning of this year, al Qaeda worldwide has
organized its presence in North Africa through al Qaeda
in the Maghreb, a sort of a super emirate covering the
Jihadi activities in Morocco and Algeria. But the
regional umbrella has also local groups affiliated with
it and also much smaller cells that operate separately.
It looks like a Pyramid. The strategy of al Qaeda
Maghreb is to undermine stability in North Africa and
disrupt economic relationships with the European Union.
Any Significance of December “11”?
We will always have the tendency of looking at the
date 11 in each month as a potential because of 9/11 in
America and 3/11 in Madrid. The Jihadists will also try
to bank on it. But in general terms al Qaeda and its
allies would use dates according to their readiness
A sign of strength of al Qaeda?
Al Qaeda lost in some areas but grew in other sectors.
The central al Qaeda based in Afghanistan before
November 2001 is over. But the remnants of al Qaeda
adapted in many other areas and are trying to find a
spot from which they can regenerate a fully fledged
regime, such as in Iraq, Somalia, Waziristan and also
North Africa. The world is dealing with a different al
The West generally gets confused with the names and
identities of the various Jihadi groups including in
North Africa. The GSPC, an off shoot from the GIA which
was an off shoot of the FIS, which was a mutation from
the Muslim Brotherhood are all under the web of Salafism.
Since al Qaeda's campaigns in the 1990s and particularly
after 2001, a number of Salafi Jihadist groups would
emerge and take names, than change them and merge with
others. The moves are faster than Western analysis can
follow. These "Ansar" ( Ansar al Islam fi Sahara al
Bilad al Mulazamin) are a brand of Jihadists who have
designed the Maghreb and a piece of the Sahara as their
area of operation. But at the top of the pyramid, there
is al Qaeda.
Dr Walid Phares is Director of the Future Terrorism
Project at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.