Thursday, April 12, 2007

North African al-Qaeda

Sammy Ketz of Middle East Online sees a growing threat from al-Qaeda in North Africa:
"Magnus Ranstorp, research director of the Centre for Asymmetric Threat Studies at the Swedish National Defence College echoed Darif's fears.

"He said that after the authorities in Morocco and Algeria seemed to have 'broken the back of the islamist terrorist networks' it now seems that 'these two fronts have been re-energized, revitalized.'

"Part of the explanation could be, he said, 'the severity of the crackdowns. That is what we are seeing today essentially: a sort of reaction to these offensives.'

"Darif sees the hand of The Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) the main extremist outfit fighting in Algeria's long running Islamist rebellion.

"Last September, the GSPC pledged its allegiance to Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, changed its name and vowed to pursue jihad in Algeria.

"'The GSPC has taken its time to spread its cells throughout north Africa and once it felt confident enough, it took the name of Al-Qaeda Maghreb, grouping all the salafists in the region,' Darif said, referring to the adherents of Salafism, a rigid Islamic movement based on a literal interpretation of the Koran."

After yesterday's events in Morocco and Algeria, this is an easy analysis to produce. You can read more from me and Nadezhda at American Footprints, Matthew Chebatoris and Michael Scheuer for the Jamestown Foundation, and Jill Carroll writing in the Christian Science Monitor (1,2, 3).

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