A statement published on several Islamist internet forums has announced the creation of a new al-Qaeda cell in Algeria. In the document, signed by previously unknown Abu Suheib Maliani, there are references to forming an organised group called al-Qaeda of the Jihad in Algeria. The name takes its lead from Jordanian militant Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, who calls his group al-Qaeda of the Jihad in Iraq.
The signatories appear to be seeking to become the officially designated al-Qaeda cell in Algeria and are asking the combatents of the Salafite Islamist formations hiding in the mountains to join a “new project” and not to accept the Algerian government’s offer of a pardon.
In the threatening message, the militants outlined their terrorist objectives: “From day one we say that we are not responsible for attacks on innocent people and Algerian civilians. Our targets are Jews, Christians, important figures, embassies and foreign interests – they are the real objective we ask the nation to unite against and to strike wherever they are”.
The chief of Algeria’s General Amnesty Commission (CNGAG) , Abdel Razzak Ismail, said last month that at least 400 terrorists are prepared to lay down their arms as part of a general pardon for members of militant groups, state-armed militias and the security forces implicated in human rights abuses.
President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has asked Algerians to back an amnesty to try to end the 13 years of violence involving Islamic militants, in particular the Salafite Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) and the Armed Islamic Group (GIA). As many as 200,000 people are believed to have died in the conflict, which re-erupted after the government annulled elections that hardline Islamists were poised to win in 1992.