Toward the Far Enemy: N. Africa’s GSPC Joins the Global Qaida

Toward the Far Enemy: N. Africa’s GSPC Joins the Global Qaida

In the aftermath of more deadly bombings in Algeria and Morocco, many analysts are beginning to look closer at the entity that took the name "Al Qaida's Committee in the Islamic Maghreb" in January 2007 after establishing an alliance with al-Qaida last September. Since the re-branding of the organization formerly known as the GSPC (the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat), the group's activities have become infused with a new vigor and lethality. Now, the GSPC -- an organization whose operational strength and influence had been waning since the 1990's -- has refashioned itself as an official affiliate of Bin Laden's global network .

Al Qaida's Committee in the Islamic Maghreb (AQCIM) has demonstrably upped its tempo and expanded its targets since adopting the new globally focused identity in the al-Qaida merger. In December of 2006 the group took responsibility for an ambush on a bus of Western contractors on a road west of Algiers. Then, in February 2007, the group claimed a group of coordinated attacks on Algerian police stations. But the attacks of April 11, which targeted Algeria's capital directly and killed 33 people, clearly demonstrate that the group's capabilities have reached a new threshold. Some reports suggest the occurrence of other smaller attacks in recent months have been frequent, but widespread coverage of such incidents has been controlled by the Algerian government.

The strategic importance of this new relationship between the Algerian movement and the broader, global Bin Laden-led network is manifold. First, the threat to Algerian security is clear. The resurgence of large-scale violence could easily threaten the precarious peace that was established through an amnesty in September 2005. The agreement, which sought to disarm and reintegrate insurgents, is now seriously challenged as the AQCIM has taken a new direction and begun staging mass casualty attacks directly targeting the state. The implications of a revived and reinvigorated insurgency would be devastating to the population. Tuesday's (April 17) rallies against the attacks, and in support of national reconciliation, underline this desperation for peace.

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