A New al-Qaeda Affiliate in Algeria?
Publication: Terrorism Focus Volume: 2 Issue: 1
The fact that pressure from Algerian security forces may be forcing some serious reorganization is hinted at by a cryptic note posted on the Al-Ma’sada jihadist website. The note purports to be from the Tanzim al-Qaeda fi Bilad al-Berber, or ‘The organization of al-Qaeda in the Land of the Berbers’. This is a previously unknown group and thus merits monitoring. The message indicated that on December 14 2004 the ‘Nur Brigade’, previously affiliated to the GSPC, was now announcing its allegiance directly to Osama bin Laden and had appointed one ‘Sayf al-Din’ as the local al-Qaeda emir in the ‘Land of the Berbers’ [www.alm2sda.net]. The terminology is consciously modeled on the Jordanian Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi’s pledge of allegiance to Bin Laden, and recalls the new name for Al-Zarqawi’s group, the Tanzim al-Qaeda fi Bilad al-Rafidayn, ‘The organization of al-Qaeda in the Land of the Two Rivers’, following al-Qaeda’s inclinations to dispense with current geographical denominations. Taken at face value the announcement could be an indication of a re-organization prior to the re-igniting of the conflict following a period of reverses. The posting elicited calls for further clarification, or some official declaration, which have yet to be answered, and which may cast doubt on its credibility. The issue is complicated by the fact that the GSPC is already linked to Bin Laden, whose influence was instrumental in detaching defectors from the GIA to form the GSPC group. Former GSPC leader Nabil Sahroui, openly declared his allegiance to al-Qaeda. However, to date the GSPC allegiance has been largely a formality, with little evidence of participation in a ‘global jihad’. In light of continuing evidence of low morale and defections from GSPC, the posting string is worth watching carefully.