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Algeria thwarts arms smuggling across Libya border

By Walid Ramzi for Magharebia in Algiers – 21/09/12

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Algerian security forces are struggling to cope with arms smuggling gangs that have stepped up their operations along the southern border, prompting the Algerian army to intensify its presence across some rugged border crossings currently exploited by smugglers.

Forces from the People's National Army in the border area adjacent to Libya recently succeeded in confiscating 32 weapons and 14,000 rounds of ammunition in one operation near Karat Alain, south of Djanet in the province of Illizi. The September 12th operation was part of a search along the desert border frequently used by smugglers and terrorists seeking to transfer weapons.

ANP troops arrested three members of the gang, including a Libyan national, while another smuggler was wounded by gunshots.

This operation was prompted when Algerian security forces noted the movement of a number of SUVs coming from the south of Libya, which they then ambushed. An assessment of the weapons revealed that they were smuggled from the stockpiles of the Libyan army and intended to be handed over in the Tazrouk district of Tamanrasset to smuggling gangs and drug dealers.

The Algerian army has stepped up patrols in the south recently. Its units are now equipped with powerful and sophisticated monitoring devices, allowing them to cover wider regions. This capability allows the army, as in this operation, to monitor a region extending about 260 kilometres from Djanet.

In recent months, Algerian security forces have succeeded in thwarting several operations intended to smuggle weapons, including the smuggling of Katyusha rockets, machine guns and different types of ammunition. Security forces discovered weapons caches along the border in places used by smugglers to hide contraband in order to avoid falling prey to security patrols.

Security forces stationed in Tamanrasset and Illizi, bordering Libya, Niger and Mali, have seized 104 weapons in the last ten months alone.

Fifty per cent of the seized weapons were hunting rifles, and the rest included heavy arms that terrorists tried to get from the stockpiles of the former Libyan regime. Some also originated with arms dealers who took advantage of the Libyan revolution to smuggle large quantities of weapons into neighbouring countries.

Intelligence services, in investigations carried out during the last month, uncovered a plan by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb for a large operation of smuggling weapons obtained from Libya to be transferred to the Algerian desert, passing through the desert of Mali and Niger. The operation was supposed to pass the guns through smugglers who would then bury the weapons in marked locations in the desert for later use by terrorists against security the Algerian government in the south.

Authorities in Algeria are also forming special units to comb desert pathways that terrorists and smugglers have used to hide weapons smuggled from Libya. A number of unmanned Algerian planes and jets equipped with thermal detection and night observation devices have been deployed along the border with Mali and Niger, as well as the eastern border with Libya.

Security forces are considering establishing surveillance systems and electronic alarms along the borders with countries that have a troubled security situation. This deployment is intended to reduce the security threats along borders with Libya and also with northern Mali, under control of jihadist groups. The defence and interior ministries formed a working group at the end of 2011 to study the project.

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  1. Anonymous thumb

    Samgood 2014-10-11

    I don't see the interest in always criticising the government. If you think that the leaders are all underdeveloped, then that's because the people too are underdeveloped! Just look at our streets, or goals, and our results to see this! So, thank you, leaders, for also protecting the Algerian territory. The are doing a super job. And it's also time for the underdeveloped among the people to get to serious work so that the country becomes a bit more modern in every way! It's a little too easy to spit on the leaders everyday!!!


  2. Anonymous thumb

    mohamed 2013-1-1

    is maghrebia.com the mouthpiece of the current junta in algiers ... i wouldnt be surprised


  3. Anonymous thumb

    mohamed 2013-1-1

    Inch' Allah Algeria will be completely overwhelmed by smuggled weapons including UAV's ect ... Cos sooner (or later) the Puppet Military Dictatorship in Algiers at the behest of their masters (French Military Intelligence service) will face their own day of reckoning, The people will prevail, but the french have to prop up the current dirt in Algiers in order to protect their energy supply and what they foolishly see as "stability" (the french are notorious shortsighted peasants, their colonial record speaks volume, Tragically Algeria is somehow a very poor photocopy of that peasant system: the scourge of french legacy) No Tinpot Banana Client State has EVER stood the test of time, Algeria will be no exception, mark my word, those weapons will kickstart the unavoidable in good time


  4. Anonymous thumb

    hauiiiii 2012-9-25

    gooooooooooooooooo for long time


  5. Anonymous thumb

    Tebbane 2012-9-22

    Good evening to the entire team – I have no comment to make today. I will make one in good time. Nevertheless, I must say that I am very satisfied with the content of your messages. They are practically theses, which have the merit of providing the main news about the countries of the Maghreb. I sincerely congratulate you and hope you persevere in achieving your objectives. - Cordially


  6. Anonymous thumb

    BlaBlaBla 2012-9-22

    It is strange how often we hear this song, but a verdict was never issued for these so-called terrorists, who were attacked by the Algerian army. Pretending that this hoax is true, they should have done this earlier, back when they were willingly letting all sorts of smugglers, weapons, terrorists and the Polisario go through! Now, the harm is already done and our Malian friends did not deserve this.