"A battle is underway for control of the leadership of Algeria's last major armed Islamist group. A country exhausted by violence has used a combination of amnesties and military action to reduce the once powerful Salafist Group for Call and Combat (GSPC) to a few hundred fighters. Under the leadership of Abu Mus'ab Abd al-Wadoud (also known as Abdelmalek Droudkel), the commander since 2004, the GSPC has been reorganized into Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Droukdel's decision to align the group with Osama bin Laden and adopt al-Qaeda-style tactics has led to a further loss of personnel. There are now reports that the GSPC leader has been deposed by a three-day meeting of group leaders in the Lakhdaria region east of Algiers. GSPC amirs loyal to Droukdel have already been replaced, but the congress was unable to decide on a new leader (Liberté, September 18).
"Several factors were involved in Droukdel's dismissal, including the controversial transformation of the GSPC into a regional branch of al-Qaeda without consultation with the rest of the movement (as required), the inequitable distribution of funds from extortion and kidnapping rackets, the adoption of suicide bombings and the recruitment of teenagers to carry out such attacks (Terrorism Monitor; September 13; Terrorism Focus, September 18)...
"Droukdel, however, has rejected appeals from former comrades and religious leaders to abandon his struggle: 'We will not surrender to apostates and bad scholars' (Ech-Chorouk, August 29). The change of leadership could signal an end to the close ties with al-Qaeda and a refocus on the national insurgency. In terms of tactical doctrine, Hattab and Droukdel have been at odds for years, each claiming support from the Quran and Sunna for their methods. Hassan Hattab has already admitted being in contact with Algerian government officials regarding the possibility of his own surrender and suspension of the outstanding death sentence against him. It is possible that dismantling the Algerian wing of al-Qaeda might be the price of a presidential pardon for Hassan Hattab."
I count this as a positive development. I don't have a strong opinion on Algerian politics, but I do harbor enmity for al-Qaeda over its attacks on the United States, and that extends to anyone who identifies with it.
(Crossposted to American Footprints)