ALGERIA’S GSPC JOINS THE AL-QAEDA NETWORK
On September 13, the leader of Algeria’s Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) announced the group’s affiliation with Osama bin Laden and the al-Qaeda network. According to leader Abu Musab Abdel-Wadoud, “After consultations, we decided to announce allegiance to Sheikh Osama bin Laden and continue our jihad in Algeria under his leadership” (el-Khabar, September 16). According to an article in Le Figaro on September 14, al-Qaeda second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri urged the GSPC to prepare operations for an attack on France, and for the militant group to become “a bone in the throat of the Americans and the French” (el-Khabar, September 16). While the GSPC has expressed support for al-Qaeda in the past, this latest announcement is the most direct statement affirming its commitment to al-Qaeda. France considers the GSPC to be one of the largest threats against French territory, and the United States considers the GSPC to be the “most effective remaining armed group” and the “largest, most active terrorist organization [in Algeria]” (Reuters, September 14). The GSPC has cells all throughout Europe; on July 21, for example, Italian authorities busted a GSPC terrorist cell operating on their territory (Terrorism Focus, August 1).
PAKISTANI DAILY CRITICIZES GOVERNMENT PEACE DEAL WITH TRIBAL MILITANTS
A September 14 editorial in the Pakistani daily The News questioned the government’s strategy to fight the Talibanization of its tribal regions. The editorial pointed to Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf’s recent deal with militants in North Waziristan agency in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). As part of the deal, government troops would cease attacks against local Taliban fighters in exchange for these militants ending their cross-border attacks into Afghanistan along with their attacks against Pakistani security forces and other state interests. The editorial expresses the paper’s skepticism over the deal, saying that this will allow militants in North Waziristan to spread their influence throughout the tribal region. According to the editorial, “The government’s view on this seems naive because it considers that the local Taliban will not spread their rigid interpretation of Islam, their subjugation of women, smashing television sets or forcibly making people pray outside the region…The fact of the matter is that Talibanization has spread to the settled districts of the [North-West Frontier Province] adjoining FATA, especially Tank, Bannu and Dera Ismail Khan, where incidents of people being forced to part with their television sets and cable TV wires being cut have been reported in recent months.” The editorial concludes by saying that the deal is “a good example of appeasement of extremists.”