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Terrorism 2014-04-11

Al-Qaeda propaganda targets Algeria vote

By Mawassi Lahcen in Casablanca for Magharebia – 11/04/2014

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Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) chose the Algerian presidential election campaign to post a new video criticising the government, calling for Sharia law and an Islamic caliphate.

The al-Qaeda tape, posted March 24th under the title "Algeria... and the dark tunnel", was put together as a documentary. For over an hour the video reviewed several events witnessed by Algeria over the century, beginning with French colonialism and its resistance, up to post-independence events and the emergence of armed terrorist movements.

"What distinguishes the tape is that it does not bear the hallmarks of al-Qaeda directly," said Lahcen Oussimouh, a political analyst and researcher at the Moroccan Centre for Sociological Studies.

He noted that the tape did not include any direct reference to al-Qaeda, except for a minute and a half in the middle when it included an Abdelmalek Droukdel audio excerpt about the plight of Syrian refugees in Algeria, and at the end of the tape when quoting an old audio clip of Cheikh Mohamed Bachir El Ibrahimi calling for Sharia.

"The first thing that draws attention in this tape is that it breaks with the traditional discourse of al-Qaeda known for its strictness and radical words, which indicates the presence of a qualitative development in the discourse of the theorists of AQIM," Oussimouh told Magharebia.

He added, "Even when commenting on events, the producers of the tape avoided religious discourse. Perhaps they wanted to market a new open discourse that can be accepted by larger segments of Algerian society."

"It also reflects their keenness to avoid alienating Algerians with hard-line religious speech that brings back the tragedies of terrorism and the civil war, especially at a time when armed groups are living in stifling isolation," the analyst said.

Oussimouh suggested that what gave importance to the tape was the focus on criticism of French policy in Algeria, making it the thread between all the components. The al-Qaeda video sharply criticised authorities for opening Algerian airspace during the international intervention in northern Mali.

On the issue of corruption, it cited issues such as the El Khalifa Bank scandal and Sonatrach. It mentioned several international reports about thefts and smuggling money out of Algeria, including scandals involving big names such as Chakib Khelil.

The video included reports about the daily life of Algerians, touching on the problems of housing, unemployment and crime among young people. It ended by asking the question, "When will Algeria come out of the dark tunnel?"

Algeria was facing a serious threat, Oussimouh concluded. He mentioned the high risk of armed groups in the Sahel, which have begun to restructure themselves, threatening to return in new forms and with different methods.

That's in addition to the renewed strength of al-Qaeda after it found a new incubator in southern and eastern Libya.

"All this in addition to the difficulty of monitoring the vast Algerian borders… make Algeria face great challenges and high risks," the analyst cautioned.

For his part, Abdel Fattah al-Fatihi, a political analyst who specialises in issues of the Maghreb, was sceptical about the origin of the tape.

"We cannot be certain that the tape was actually produced by AQIM, or if it was leaked by a source that has an interest in disturbing the presidential campaign in Algeria," he told Magharebia.

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  1. Anonymous thumb

    fati 2014-4-17

    Leave us in peace!

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  2. Anonymous thumb

    صلاح 2014-4-16

    Your statements aren't true, they're all lies!

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  3. Anonymous thumb

    عبدالله 2014-4-14

    We Algerians live in prosperity and welfare. Thank God for His grace. As for those who talk about robbery and looting in Algeria; I would like to remind them that theft has existed since old times even before the era of the prophet, peace and blessings of God be upon him, not just in Algeria. Even Morocco, Tunisia and Libya and all countries of the world suffer from this phenomenon which isn't new. As regard the so-called Al Qaeda in Algeria, by God the greatest, they haven't and won't find anyone to welcome them, be they old or young. They will do wrong to themselves only because they're hated by Algerians. They're just a bunch of people who are running away from law.

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  4. Anonymous thumb

    النسر الصحراء 2014-4-14

    Hypocrite!

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  5. Anonymous thumb

    randa 2014-4-14

    What are you sticking your nose in? We don't need you to teach us Islam or how to practice it. Everyone, mind your own business.

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  6. Anonymous thumb

    bibo 2014-4-13

    Nice!

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