Country Reports on Terrorism 2010 - Algeria
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Publication Date||18 August 2011|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, Country Reports on Terrorism 2010 - Algeria, 18 August 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4e52483a32.html [accessed 31 January 2015]|
Overview: Al-Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) continued to pose a significant terrorist threat in the mountainous areas east of Algiers. AQIM primarily targeted Algerian security forces, but civilians were also wounded or killed because of AQIM criminal activity. Algerian security forces isolated AQIM in the north, and the group launched fewer successful terrorist attacks but continued to execute suicide attacks, attacks using improvised explosive devices (IED), and ambushes in the areas east of Algiers.
The government has succeeded in reducing the flow of money to terrorists. Residents of the Kabylie region repeatedly took to the streets to protest kidnappings for ransom, prompting terrorists to release at least five hostages without receiving payment. In August, however, the president (equivalent to a town mayor) of Baghlia commune in Boumerdes was killed near his home, presumably by AQIM retaliating against protests Baghlia residents held earlier in the year to denounce kidnappings.
2010 Terrorist Incidents: AQIM perpetrated notable terrorist attacks in rural areas, including a cross-border attack in the south between Mali and Algeria, the first vehicle-borne suicide bombings since 2008 using of an improvised bomb attack method commonly used in Iraq. As the attacks highlighted below indicate, Algeria experienced a spike in terrorist incidents during the summer and just prior to the start of Ramadan, which began August 11. During Ramadan, there was a brief but significant uptick in AQIM attacks, compared to the same period in 2008 and 2009, possibly triggered by aggressive Algerian counterterrorism operations.
2010 incidents included:
On June 11, a suicide truck bomb killed five police and wounded 30 others at a paramilitary police barracks in Timizar, 30 miles east of Algiers.
On July 14, four linked "daisy-chain" IEDs killed four soldiers and wounded 13 others on patrol near Tizi Ouzou, 80 miles east of Algiers. Linking bombs in this fashion was a new technique for AQIM, which has a history of adopting methods of attack used elsewhere by al-Qa'ida or affiliated groups, especially in Iraq.
On August 31 and September 1, three attacks took place within 24 hours. Terrorists stormed a mosque near Ain Defla, 60 miles southwest of Algiers, killing one and injuring eight. Near Boumerdes, a suicide bomber drove a pickup truck loaded with explosives into a military convoy 45 miles east of Algiers, killing two soldiers and wounding 30 others. A barrage of homemade rockets caused no injuries when they were fired at the judicial police headquarters 40 kilometers north of Tizi Ouzou.
Legislation and Law Enforcement: Algerian security forces – primarily gendarmerie troops under the Ministry of National Defense – conducted periodic sweeping operations in the Kabylie region southeast of the capital, targeting groups of AQIM fighters.
During the year, open source reports indicated that security forces killed or captured approximately 1,175 suspected terrorists. In December, a Boumerdes court sentenced six terrorists in absentia to death on a variety of charges, including murder, attempted murder, and belonging to a terrorist organization. Also in December, authorities suspended consideration of amnesty for 120 terrorists who had applied for amnesty under Algeria's Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation but who had resumed terrorist activity.
Also in December, the Interior Ministry began efforts to disband the communal guard forces, retiring older members and incorporating others into the army and municipal police forces. The Algerian government established the communal guard in 1996 by arming civilians to combat terrorism in the area between the cities of Blida, Algiers, and Medea. As terrorist incidents declined in that area, the government decided to disband the guard but used its forces to bolster counterterrorism units in the army and police.
Algerian law enforcement agencies cooperated with the United States and other foreign governments to prevent terrorist attacks against foreigners. The United States signed a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty with Algeria in April, creating a framework for increased legal cooperation between Algeria and the United States. The United States provided multiple training courses to Algerian police, judges, and customs officials on cyber crime, bulk cash smuggling, and counterterrorism tactics.
Countering Terrorist Finance: Algeria is a member of the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force (MENAFATF), a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body, and its mutual evaluation report was adopted by that body in its December MENAFATF Plenary. Algeria has no specific legislation to freeze terrorist assets but maintained that its ratification of international terrorist financing conventions gave it the authority to do so.
In July, a presidential decree mandated that all financial transactions over US$ 6,671 be conducted by credit card, check, or other non-cash method in an effort to increase financial transparency, track illegal financing of terrorism and reduce the possibility of corruption.
Regional and International Cooperation: Algeria continued its efforts to create a viable regional mechanism to deal with AQIM in the countries to its south. It convened three separate meetings of regional foreign ministers, military chiefs of staff, and intelligence chiefs in Algiers to discuss coordinating a response to the threat of terrorism in the trans-Sahara region. Algeria, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger established a combined military command center in Tamanrasset in southern Algeria in September, and later established an intelligence sharing center in Algiers designed to feed information to the command center in Tamanrasset.
Countering Radicalization and Violent Extremism: Beginning in 2010, the Algerian government enlisted religious scholars and former terrorists to appear on its Radio Quran radio station and appeal directly to terrorists still fighting in the mountains. Programs featured Islamic scholars from Algeria and Gulf countries who argued against the doctrines used by AQIM to justify terrorist operations. Former Algerian terrorists appeared on these programs and appealed to terrorists to stop fighting and surrender to Algerian authorities. Other radio programs instructed listeners in various aspects of Islamic law. Algerian newspapers reported that the radio appeals played a major role in convincing scores of terrorists to lay down their arms and take advantage of government amnesty. Under the Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation, the Algerian government has offered amnesty to terrorists who surrender and have not committed major terrorist acts, such as bombings and rape.
The government has the authority to prescreen and approve sermons before they are delivered during Friday prayers. In practice, each province and county employs religious officials to review sermon content. The Ministry of Religious Affairs' educational commission is responsible for establishing policies for hiring teachers at Quranic schools and ensuring that all imams were well-qualified and follow governmental guidelines aimed at stemming violent extremism. The government also has youth outreach programs through the Muslim Scouts.