AL-QAEDA IN THE ISLAMIC MAGHREB LAUNCHES NEW ATTACK
On February 13, seven bombs ripped through Algeria, leaving six people dead. The attacks took place in the Boumerdes and Tizi Ouzou districts, about 30 miles east of Algiers, and consisted of car bombs targeting police and gendarmerie stations (el-Watan, February 14). The attacks are significant since they were claimed by Qaedat al-Jihad in the Arab Maghreb Countries, or al-Qaeda Organization in the Islamic Maghreb, which was formed (or renamed) recently and is led by the Salafist Group for Call and Combat (GSPC). Shortly after the explosions, a spokesman from al-Qaeda Organization in the Islamic Maghreb stated that, “We declare our responsibility for this morning’s operation, which was carried out at 0430 local time. The operation consisted of a series of attacks using booby-trapped cars against seven centers of the national gendarmerie and the Algerian police” (al-Jazeera TV, February 13). The operation was well planned since the explosions occurred nearly simultaneously. This spectacular opening attack by the newly named/formed group is raising concern that similar operations are in the works not only in North Africa, but also in Europe where the GSPC is known to have a number of operatives. By aligning itself formally with al-Qaeda, these operatives may now be utilized to target not only French and Algerian interests, but also those states that are considered allied with the United States. According to the February 1 issue of Terrorism Monitor, “By consolidating the Maghrebi groups, al-Qaeda has, in effect, created the conduit through which jihadis can migrate among Iraq, North Africa and potentially Europe, while also establishing the organizational structure in the Maghreb to pursue the global jihad.” It is believed that fighters now part of al-Qaeda Organization in the Islamic Maghreb are hiding in the forests of Boumerdes and Tizi Ouzou (al-Jazeera TV, February 13).
JORDAN CHARGES 17 FOR RECRUITING FIGHTERS FOR IRAQ
The attorney general of Jordan’s State Security Court charged 17 people with recruiting fighters to attack Americans in Iraq, along with a number of other charges such as possessing and selling illegal weapons (Jordan Times, February 13). Five of the defendants were charged in absentee since they have not been apprehended by authorities. According to the charges, the defendants recruited several people in Jordan to fight in Iraq; one of the recruits was willing to conduct a suicide attack (Jordan Times, February 13). The charge sheet reads: “The defendants joined training camps in Lebanon and Syria and some armed themselves with machine guns to attack Jordanian security forces while crossing the Jordanian-Syrian border illegally.” Recruiting operations for Iraq appear to exist in most Middle Eastern countries, including states in North Africa and in Europe.