Islamism in Algeria and the Evolution to AQIM: Transformations of Significance and Insignificance

By: Rich Nessel

Islamism[1] has a long history in Algeria, but it has been marred in the past 20 years by the deaths of 100,000 to 200,000 citizens killed in conflicts with religious roots.[2]The notions of Islamism, Islamic fundamentalists, radical Islamists, and Muslim extremists within Algeria—and the world—lamentably have been lumped into one category, which oversimplifies the complex ideologies involved. The purpose of this article is twofold: to define the forms of Algerian Islamism, which will expose the complexities and varying approaches to Islamism under a secular regime, and to highlight a particularly sinister brand of Islamism, which will demonstrate why the specific strain of revolutionary Islamism brought by the Armed Islamic Groups (GIA) is so radically unique.[3] This framework will allow for a better understanding of the current form of violent Islamism within Algeria as practiced by Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Within this historical view, the recent rise of AQIM seems far less ominous as it appears to be little more than the GIA with a new name.

Three Categories of Islamists

Algerian Islamist organizations are heterogeneous, with different philosophies that do not fit comfortably into one order, and they represent the full spectrum of views regarding how Islam relates to personal life and the government. Islamist groups fall into three broad categories, which are listed below.[4]

  1. Apolitical Islamists believe adherence to the fundamentals of Islam is a community or individual responsibility, and that government or political reform is not necessary.[5]
  2. Political Islamists believe an Islamic state is the best form of government, but think satisfactory Islamic governance can be achieved through political participation in a secular system.[6]
  3. Revolutionary Islamists believe an Islamic state must be established immediately and think the only way to achieve this state is through violent jihad. Their goal is to overthrow the government and impose their version of God's will upon the people.[7]

Apolitical Islamists

The first group of individuals, the apolitical Islamists, is the most benign, even if they are not completely benevolent. These groups can be compared to many Western Christian community and church organizations such as the Salvation Army[8] and the Knights of Columbus;[9] such groups actively seek social change within their communities but do not advocate for fundamental political change or a theocratic solution. Algeria has a long history of organizations dedicated to spiritual enlightenment and reform that are comparable to these Western groups.[10]

The indigenous Berber population of Algeria makes up one such enlightenment group. The Berbers have always maintained close ties to their long-standing Sufi traditions, without advocating for government intervention to enforce those traditions.[11] Abdelhamid Ben Badis is an example of an apolitical reformer. He brought about a more Salafist point of view and is probably the most notable leader of social reform within Algeria.[12] Ben Badis was responsible for the formation of the Association of Algerian Ulama (AUMA) in May 1931.[13] The AUMA specifically stated within its bylaws that participation in the Algerian political system was "rigorously forbidden."[14] Instead, AUMA advocated for reform at the community and individual level, which was similar to the position of a 1960s Islamist group, al-Qiyam. Unfortunately, al-Qiyam was outlawed by the Algerian government in 1970 as it edged closer to political Islamism.[15] ;In recent years, organizations preaching Da'wa Salafism (an apolitical form of Salafism) have grown in popularity, primarily because it does not represent a notable threat to the Algerian government.[16]

Apolitical Islamist groups, like the Da'wa Salafists, have traditionally sought educational reforms in an attempt to incorporate Islamic education into the lives of the population.[17] Some reforms have been accomplished at various times in Algeria through the efforts of AUMA, and in the mid-1960s by Malek Bennabi.[18] The promotion of religious education is not at all foreign to efforts seen throughout Western nations, such as ideas promoted by the Christian Educators Association International (CEAI).[19] Apolitical Islamists advocate for private religious education similar to the programs promoted by CEAI. Their efforts contrast with those of the political Islamists who advocate for government-controlled, public, religious education.

Political Islamists

This second group of Islamists participates and campaigns within the political system of the state to enact changes. This group believes an Islamic nation as dictated by the Quran prophetic model would be a better solution than the current secular government.[20]Political Islamists believe incremental political change should be the primary method to achieve this new government, which is an important distinction between them and revolutionary Islamists.

The pursuit of incremental Islamist changes has played out many times within Algeria. During the war of independence from France (1954–1962), Islamists were in the ranks of those attempting to form a new government.[21] Although other parties shut out the Islamists following independence in 1962, the political Islamists' ideals never faded.[22] When a more democratic government emerged within Algeria in 1988, the Islamists achieved widespread public popularity.[23] A 1991 Islamist political victory was thwarted by a military coup d'état that unleashed a violent civil war, but even after that, political Islamists still advocated for negotiation and political solutions.[24]

Early forms of political Islamist groups were characterized by the Jazira trend, which represented the more peaceful-minded groups who advocated social and political movements to effect governmental change.[25] The leaders who formed this group were some of the politically involved AUMA members who had been crowded out of the political process by secular groups after Algeria won independence from France.[26] This power arrangement remained in effect until the death of President Houari Boumedienne in 1978, which created a power vacuum.[27] His death coincided with economic woes and widespread desire for change within the government.[28]Attempting to avert public unrest, the regime under President Chadli Bendjedid attempted to avert public unrest by making the government more transparent and allowing the participation of multiple political parties.[29] This was a significant change for Algeria, as Algeria had basically been a one-party system after it had achieved independence, and the shift to a plural democracy allowed the previously muted Islamist voice to rise to the top.[30]

The political Islamist groups during the pro-democracy period (1988–1992) were characterized by the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS), al-Harakat li-Mujtama' Islami (HAMAS) and the Harakat al-Nahda al-Islamiyya (MNI).[31] The political Islamists formed political parties and campaigned for office in local and national elections, and within a short time, they had won many seats within the local and national legislatures.[32] The next bout of elections in 1991 brought an even greater victory for the Islamists, in particular the FIS. With the political Islamists on the verge of taking a clear democratic majority (winning 188 of 232 seats in the first round of voting), events took a sudden turn away from democracy.[33]

In 1992, the Algerian military orchestrated a coup by claiming the regime was collapsing.[34] President Bendjedid was forced by the military to dissolve the National Assembly and resign from office.[35] The military feared that the election results would mean "one man, one vote, but only once."[36] This prevailing anti-Islamist view feared that after the Islamists had won a political majority they would disassemble the democratic establishment to construct an Algerian theocratic system under Shariah law. Therefore[37] The military, responding to demonstrations and actions by some revolutionary Islamists, outlawed the Islamist political parties and jailed some of their leaders and followers.[38]Nonetheless, even this severe repression did not stop the political Islamists from continuing to advocate for political solutions to the increasing violent struggle.

Since 1992, organizations like the Wafa party have continued to fight through peaceful demonstrations and political maneuvering to re-establish an outlet for their Islamist views.[39] The use of peaceful tactics by these groups does not mean these organizations never employed violence as a mechanism for change. On the contrary, violence was utilized by many organizations within this rubric—such as the Islamic Salvation Army (AIS), the armed wing of the FIS.[40] However, such groups did not use violence as their primary tool to force change but as one to achieve influence in politics.[41]

The political Islamist philosophy continues to exist in Algeria, and as late as 2002 a resurgence of political Islamism crept back into the Algerian political arena. The Movement for National Reform, a moderate Islamic party, has seen mild success, winning about 11% of the seats in the National Assembly.[42] Political Islamists continue to hope for reconciliation that will resolve the long-standing conflict and allow them to fully participate in the Algerian government. In sharp contrast, revolutionary Islamists are wholly against any reconciliation or notion of working within the bounds of secular government.[43]

Revolutionary Islamists

The third form of Islamism promotes a view that Islam has an absolute interpretation and that the only way to achieve a nation under Islam is by violent jihad. Fundamentally, revolutionary Islamists believe the only solution to governance is an Islamic nation under Shariah law. Further, they believe that any government not founded completely on Islamic tradition is tantamount to heresy and that the "heretics" of secular governments will not give up their power unless they are removed by force.[44] Thus, revolutionary Islamists justify uncompromising actions of violent jihad to achieve their goal of a nation governed by Shariah.

Such Islamist groups were initially characterized by the Algerian Islamic Movement (MIA), formed by Mustapha Bouyali, and later by the al-Takfir wa'Hirja.[45] After Algeria gained independence from France, these groups stockpiled weapons and conducted covert warfare against the state.[46] Although these Islamists groups were ever-present, they were often termed as bandits or criminals and not seen as a substantial threat to the state. However, as the political situation within Algeria deteriorated, local support grew for revolutionary Islamists.[47] This newfound popularity allowed for the birth of militant Islamist organizations such as the GIA and the Movement for an Islamic State (MEI).[48]

Revolutionary Islamist organizations within Algeria took to the offensive after the 1992 coup, striking out against the government in a series of attacks and assassinations. The first attack was against an army barracks on January 22, 1992, which unleashed a series of government reprisals, effectively intensifying the violence on both sides.[49] A spiral of violent rebellion and repression ensued for the next five years.[50] During this period, a competition of ideologies began within the Islamists as well.

The political Islamists were competing with the revolutionary Islamists for legitimacy and public support. Groups like the FIS attempted to sue for peace and a return to politics, while organizations like the GIA and MNI[51] saw no place for compromise and purposely sabotaged ceasefire agreements.[52] The convictions of the GIA were so strong that its agents assassinated fellow Islamists simply for attempting to negotiate with the secular government.[53] Additionally, the GIA assassinated fighters of a neighboring jihad organization, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Groups (LIFG).[54] In effect, organizations like the GIA were not only disinterested in peace, they were actively preventing it from occurring.

However, the public finally lost tolerance for the indiscriminate killing and withdrew support for the GIA. About the same time, the government began reconciliation programs to reintegrate the Islamist fighters. These two factors brought the decline of the GIA in the late 1990s.[55] Additionally, one GIA commander who was disgusted by some of the group's actions separated and formed his own organization, the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) in 1998.[56] Consequently, the GIA withered on the vine and, by the mid-2000s, was no longer a major threat.[57] The GSPC fought on against the Algerian regime but no longer waged an open war against the population and foreign interests.[58] Though this approach was more tolerable, the general public was by and large done with war after witnessing the death of between 100,000 and 200,000 citizens during the civil war.[59] This public sentiment, along with effective government reconciliation programs and the loss of religious support for the jihad, led to the steady decline in the GSPC as an effective insurgent organization.[60] The GSPC was on the path to failure.

The Roots of AQIM

Sensing a need for significant change, the leadership of the GSPC declared itself subservient to Al Qaeda (AQ), [61] and in 2007, the GSPC formally became Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).[62] More than a name change, the transformation was meant to project an image of an entirely new group, and along with a new propaganda campaign came a return to attacks on Western targets and a rise in suicide bomb attacks.[63] Additionally, AQIM attempted to broaden its reach as a regional threat by increasing fundraising, trafficking, training, and recruiting in areas of the Sahel, such as Mali and Niger.

However, AQIM did not fundamentally change its strategic goals from those of the GSPC or GIA. Though publicized as a regional terrorist organization, AQIM showed "no real threat" to any regime within North Africa,[64] and the fundamental goal of establishing an Islamic state in Algeria remained its top objective. This focus is evidenced within the 2010 U.S. Bureau of Diplomatic Security report, which notes that AQIM has continued its focus on Algeria. The report summarizes 196 bombings and 170 other terrorist acts inside Algeria in 2010.[65] In comparison, AQIM conducted a total of six attacks in 2010 through the beginning of 2011 across the Sahel (Mauritania, Mali and Niger).[66]

AQIM and its predecessor, the GIA, have yet to meet their objectives of establishing an Islamic state in Algeria through jihad, and in fact appear further from success since 1992. Although the public appears to desire reconciliation, AQIM has continued to fight. The reason that Algerian revolutionary Islamism, in its latest form of AQIM, has persisted is predicated on the rise of the GIA, which is unique within the three forms of Algerian Islamism discussed thus far.

Birth of the GIA

Revolutionary Islamist groups, including the MIA and al-Takfir wa'Hirja, existed within Algeria well before the 1992 founding of the GIA.[67] However, the GIA had a wholly different origin and, therefore, a different strategy to jihad. The MIA and MEI, which relied on attacks against the government and its institutions, predominantly viewed the public, foreigners, and competing Islamists as neutral parties.[68] The GIA did not, instead viewing all who failed to actively support its jihad as collaborators with the government, hence making them eligible military targets based on takfir beliefs. Under the takfiri policy, the GIA slaughtered entire villages, murdered foreigners, and killed citizens for "violating Islamic law," with executions carried out for infractions ranging from infidelity to wearing Western clothing.[69] In this way, the ideas of the GIA essentially differed from those of other Algerian, revolutionary Islamist organizations.

The major difference in ideology was born in the Soviet-Afghan War, which exposed between 1,200 to 2,000 Algerian fighters who served in the conflict to the hard-line precepts of Arab Islamism.[70] The Algerian-Afghans (as they became known) were particularly exposed to the teachings of Ayman al-Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden.[71] These Algerian fighters trained in the Pakistani camps set up by the Arab and Egyptian mujahadeen, and there, some members were indoctrinated while others were simply exposed to the more revolutionary ideas of the mujahadeen.[72] One Afghan-Algerian mujahad, Qari Said al-Jazairi, served as an AQ facilitator and messenger and would later be influential in establishing the GIA with AQ startup money and recruiting.[73] Thus, Algerian-Afghan veterans like Qari Said imported their ideas from the future leadership of AQ.

AQ was instrumental to the formation of the GIA; however, responsibility for the carnage of the Algerian Civil War does not rest solely on Al Qaeda. AQ leaders certainly had a hand in the war, but it was not all their doing. In the beginning, the few Algerian-Afghan veterans brought inspiration, leadership, professional fighting skills, organization, and determination with them to Algeria. But as the GIA evolved, Algerians who had not served in Afghanistan became its primary constituents. These GIA members more than likely were former members of the FIS, MIA, or other Algerian Islamist organizations. As AQ formed in Sudan, it played a role as a GIA sponsor, providing funding, training, and support; and reports from before 2001 that highlight the open support coming from Sudan to the GIA may allude to the genesis of AQ in Sudan.[74] Ultimately, however, as referenced by Wright in The Looming Tower, the GIA acted on its own to reach levels of violence well beyond the scope of what AQ had intended, which eventually caused a cooling of relations between the two groups.[75]

Evolution of the GIA

By the time Djamel Zitouni took over the GIA in 1995, he had completely incorporated the principles of takfiri violence.[76] Zitouni had condemned the entire society of Algeria and any foreign influence. "The Butcher," as he became known, lashed out at all outside his organization. His successor, Antar Zwabri, went even further and was responsible for the worst massacres of the entire conflict.[77] In retrospect, the GIA was a spawn of AQ ideology that received its baptism under fire in Algeria as Algerians in the GIA simply ran with the ideological beliefs, taking them to an extreme end. The GIA village massacres of 1997 and 1998 precipitated the eventual split to the GSPC.[78]

In 2001, AQ sent an emissary to meet with Hattab, the leader of the GSPC, in an attempt to influence the new revolutionary Islamist leader in Algeria. However, the emissary was killed by Algerian security forces, providing proof that AQ was actively courting the Algerian jihad.[79] Thus, the 2003 allegiance to Osama bin Laden and the subsequent 2006 merger of AQ and the GSPC, announced by Ayman al-Zawahiri, appeared as no surprise.[80] The reality is that Al-Qaeda had always been in Algeria.[81] With this historical perspective, AQIM does not appear to be a brand-new organization, formed as a new AQ front to the global jihad. Instead, AQ formally and informally sponsored the Algerian jihad with ideology, training, and financing for more than 15 years and had a part in the GIA, although it could not control it. In this context, the arrival of AQIM on the Algerian Islamist stage seems far less significant and can even be seen as more of a rebirth of the GIA than anything else—an attempt to restart the engine of takfiri jihad begun by Afghan veterans like Qari Said. From this point of view, the rise of GIA can be seen as the more important and more dangerous event.

Prior to the formation of the GIA, Algeria had not experienced the indiscriminate types of violence that became routine under the group, which introduced two forms of violence: the murder of civilians in the name of takfir and the killing of foreigners. The concept of murder of noncombatants under takfir was justified by a GIA fatwa, which declared, "the populace should pick sides [either the state or the jihad] on pain of death."[82] The fatwa meant the GIA was no longer satisfied with neutral parties or tacit support but would view citizens as either with the GIA or against it. The extermination of entire villages became a common practice after this fatwa was issued.[83]

The takiri fatwa also applied to all foreigners and foreign institutions.[84] One example of the GIA acting upon this tenet was the hijacking of Air France Flight 8969 in 1994, with the intent to crash the fuel-laden airliner in Paris, a predecessor to the 9/11 plot carried out in the United States.[85] Another example can be seen in the murder of seven French monks in Algeria.[86] These types of events were not prevalent prior to the rise of the GIA, and the only substantially new tactic brought by AQIM was the use of suicide bombings.[87] Overall, AQIM of today seems little changed from the GIA of the late 1990s.

The philosophy of Islamism within Algeria has a long historical precedent. While the GIA provided a significant transformation of revolutionary Islamism in the country, AQIM can be seen as just another part of Algeria's long history of Islamism. Furthermore, Islamist ideals have never been homogenous but instead vary widely from individual spiritual salvation to the use of violent jihad to force compliance with the tenets of Islam. These principles can be explained broadly in the terms of apolitical, political, and revolutionary Islamist divisions. Grouping Islamists into these categories makes it easy to see how revolutionary Islamists differ from the rest. Even within the revolutionary Islamist groups of Algeria, the GIA was a clear aberration, representing something novel from traditional Algerian Islamism. The difference grew from the experiences of a few Algerian fighters as mujahadeen in the Afghan jihad combined with the subsequent influence by the future founders of Al Qaeda. However, because AQ has maintained a close relationship with the Algerian jihad throughout; the birth of AQIM can be seen as a fundamentally trivial evolution. In fact, AQIM appears to be an attempt to return to the GIA, the original Algerian jihad group of 1992. Essentially, AQIM is less of an instrumental transformation in Islamist ideology than an insignificant name change in a chapter of Algeria's Islamist history—a history of spiritual tradition, political reform, and unrestrained violence.

About the Author(s): Major Richard Nessel is a U.S. Army Special Forces officer currently studying Irregular Warfare at the Naval Postgraduate School alongside CTFP Fellows. He served with 1-10th Special Forces Battalion and has been part of multiple deployments under Operation Enduring Freedom Trans-Sahara within North Africa, specifically targeting Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Major Nessel was recently awarded the French Military Cross for Valor (Croix de la Valeur Militaire) for combat gallantry while working with and assisting French forces in Afghanistan.


[1] The terms Islamism and Islamist have different connotations depending on the way it is used. Here, Islamism means the Muslim pursuit of establishing an Islamic state governed by Islamic law. As demonstrated in this article, there are varying degrees through which Islamists pursue this goal, be they fundamentalist or moderate. The way this term is used is meant to encapsulate the full breadth of those with Islamist pursuits. 

[2] Salima Mellah, "Justice Commission for Algeria: The Massacres in Algeria, 1992-2004," retrieved from Justice Commission for Algeria website, (May 2004), (accessed August 6, 2011), 7.

[3] The GIA would later fracture into the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), which eventually would change its name to Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Camille Tawil, Brothers in Arms: The Story of Al-Qa'ida and the Arab Jihadists (London: Saqi, 2010), 127, 195.

[4] This is roughly analogous to Quintan Wiktorowicz's purists, politicos and jihadi categories of Salafism in his work, "Anatonomy of the Salafi Movement," (2006), retrieved from CÉRIUM website, (accessed September 7, 2011).

[5] Michael Willis, The Islamist Challenge in Algeria (Lebanon, NY: Ithaca, 1996), 86.

[6] Hugh Roberts, The Battlefield: Algeria 1988–2002 (London: Verso, 2003), 100.

[7] Luis Martinez, The Algerian Civil War 1990–1998. (New York: Columbia University Press, 2000), 60–62.

[9] The Knights of Columbus website,

[10] Willis, The Islamist Challenge, 9–18.

[11] Berbers are the native inhabitants of North Africa and Algeria. They are often called "Berber Arabs," as they are nomadic people like the Arabs of the Middle East.  The Berbers were conquered by Arab Muslims in the 700s, and subsequently converted to their own form of Islam. Sufism is a form of mystical Islam, and Berber Sufism incorporates traditions the Berbers practiced prior to being conquered by the Arabs. Before the fall of the Ottoman Empire, most of Algeria practiced Sufism. Willis, The Islamist Challenge, 1–8.

[12] Salafism is a philosophy that seeks to return to the original form of Islam, based on scripture. Salafism is most similar to Wahhabism and Arab fundamentalism. Willis, The Islamist Challenge, 8–12.

[13] Willis, The Islamist Challenge, 10.

[14] Willis, The Islamist Challenge, 13.

[15] Emad Eldin Shahin, Political Ascent: Contemporary Islamic Movements in North Africa (Boulder, CO: Westview, 1998), 166–77.

[16] Amel Boubekeur, "Salafism and Radical Politics in Postconflict Algeria," (September 2008), retrieved from the Carnegie Middle East Center website, http://www.carnegie–, 13–17.

[17] Willis, The Islamist Challenge, 11.

[18] Willis, The Islamist Challenge, 11–13, 57–60.

[19] Christian Educators Association International website,

[20] Tawil, Brothers in Arms, 45.

[21] Boubekeur, "Salafism and Radical Politics," 4.

[22] Willis, The Islamist Challenge, 390.

[23] Democracy began to emerge in Algeria as the regime sought to maintain control during a period of poor economic times and high public unemployment.  To solve the unrest, President Chadli Bendjedid proposed a series of measures to improve transparency and plurality in the government.  Willis, The Islamist Challenge, 394.

[24] Roberts, The Battlefield: Algeria, 371–72.

[25] Shahin, Political Ascent, 120-21.

[26] Willis, The Islamist Challenge, 35-37.

[27] Willis, The Islamist Challenge, 61, 69–70.

[28] William Quandt, Between Ballots & Bullets: Algeria's Transition from Authoritarianism (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 1998), 159; Shahin, Political Ascent.

[29] Shahin, Political Ascent, 127–29.

[30] Willis, The Islamist Challenge, 112–13.

[31] Roberts, The Battlefield: Algeria, 65.

[32] Martinez, Algerian Civil War, 20–22.

[33] Roberts, The Battlefield: Algeria, 369.

[34] Shahin, Political Ascent, 149–50.

[35] Willis, The Islamist Challenge, 247–50.

[36] Algeria's Bloody Years, directed by Malek Bensmail, (Icarus Films, 2003), 22 mins.

[37] Willis, The Islamist Challenge, 253–56.

[38] Shahin, Political Ascent, 150–51.

[39] Roberts, The Battlefield: Algeria, 277.

[40] Roberts, The Battlefield: Algeria, 164.

[41] Willis, The Islamist Challenge, 350–51.

[42] Roberts, The Battlefield: Algeria, 347.

[43] Martinez, Algerian Civil War, 21.

[44] Lawrence Wright, The Looming Tower (New York: Vintage, 2006), 34–35.

[45] Willis, The Islamist Challenge, 65, 71–72.

[46] Willis, The Islamist Challenge, 71–74.

[47] Martinez, Algerian Civil War, 72–73.

[48] Roberts, The Battlefield: Algeria, 131, 258.

[49] Willis, The Islamist Challenge, 255–57.

[50] Martinez, Algerian Civil War, 19.

[51] The MNI, like the FIS, developed a militant wing following the 1992 coup. However the MNI, which had formerly been a political Islamist group, grew more like the GIA and less interested in political settlement.

[52] Roberts, The Battlefield: Algeria, 268–69.

[53] Tawil, Brothers in Arms, 129.

[54] The GIA created a long-standing grudge between the Libyan and Algerian jihad organizations, and that is why, contrary to public speculation, no real link exists between AQIM and the LIFG. This separation is plainly seen by the near simultaneous declarations to support Al Qaeda by each organization.  Both organizations refused to fall under the authority of the other, and so each pledged their individual loyalty to AQ. Tawil, Brothers in Arms, 131–33.

[55] Boubekeur, "Salafism and Radical Politics," 7.

[56] Roberts, The Battlefield: Algeria, 372.

[57] Boubekeur, "Salafism and Radical Politics," 7.

[58] Roberts, The Battlefield: Algeria, 299.

[59] Mellah, "Justice Commission for Algeria," 7.

[60] Tawil, Brothers in Arms, 182.

[61] Tawil, Brothers in Arms, 194.

[62] Boubekeur, "Salafism and Radical Politics," 9.

[63] Tawil, Brothers in Arms, 195.

[64] Tawil, Brothers in Arms, 195.

[65] U.S. Bureau of Diplomatic Security, "Algeria 2011 Crime and Safety Report: Riots/Civil Unrest; Crime; Terrorism," (April 21, 2011), retrieved from the Overseas Security Advisory Council website, (accessed July 18, 2011), 1.

[66] The Sahel is sub-Saharan North Africa, which includes Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso, and Nigeria.  AQIM's attacks listed in this report occurred in only three of those countries. Modibo Goita, "West Africa's Growing Terrorist Threat: Confronting AQIM's Sahelian Strategy," Africa Security Brief, no. 11, (February 2011): 1–2.

[67] Willis, The Islamist Challenge, 65, 71–72.

[68] Willis, The Islamist Challenge, 282–84.

[69]  Willis, The Islamist Challenge, 282–84.

[70] Tawil, Brothers in Arms, 70.

[71] This claim was made by Abu Mus'ab Al-Suri, a leading Al Qaeda strategist, and by Abdullah Anas, one of Osama bin Laden's close friends and fellow mujahadeen (prior to their decision to go separate ways because of their differences in Islamist ideology). Abdullah Anas ran one of many hostels hosting foreign fighters in Afghanistan and Pakistan and witnessed the Algerians as they were indoctrinated by the Arab forms of jihad and Islamism. Tawil, Brothers in Arms, 13, 43–45.

[72] Tawil, Brothers in Arms, 44-48.

[73] Though Qari Said's role in the GIA has been questioned by later leaders of the GIA, author Camille Tawil states that, "their [the later GIA leaders] aim seems to have been to inflate the Salafists' role at the expense of the Afghan veterans." Brothers in Arms, 68, 73.

[74] The following sources, writing before 2001, all mention the support from groups within Sudan, when Al Qaeda was not a known entity. Therefore, these authors most likely would have been unaware of the significance of Islamist aide coming from Sudan and noted it merely as an Islamist ally like Iran: Willis, The Islamist Challenge, 378; Quandt, Ballots & Bullets, 97, 154; Martinez, Algerian Civil War, 21. Martinez goes so far as to mention the notion of takfir originating from Egyptian values from the affiliation with the Afghanistan mujahaden. After 2001, when reading these texts, the link between AQ in Sudan and the Algerian jihad is seen clearly. The fledgling AQ organization, in its first operational test, sent operatives to Algeria, according to Wright, The Looming Tower, 142, 216; and Tawil, Brothers in Arms, 96.

[75]  Wright, The Looming Tower 215–17.

[76] Zitouni had actually been a butcher by trade, and this reference stuck as he increased the GIA's level of violence against the populace. Tawil, Brothers in Arms, 127–29.

[77] Zwabri was credited with massacres of entire villages, killing 400 or more unarmed citizens. He was also the GIA leader who ordered the murder of the LIFG fighters. Tawil, Brothers in Arms, 129.

[78] Tawil, Brothers in Arms, 127.

[79] Tawil, Brothers in Arms, 184.

[80] Tawil, Brothers in Arms, 194–95.

[81] Tawil, Brothers in Arms, 44–48.

[82] A fatwa is an Islamic religious decree or law that provides religious justification for whatever actions are to be taken. Anneli Botha, Terrorism in the Maghreb (Pretoria: Institute of Security Studies, 2008), 34–38.

[83] There were 250 village massacres in the next three years. Algeria's Bloody Years, Bensmail, 43 mins.

[84] Botha, Terrorism in the Maghreb, 34–38.

[85] This attack was thwarted by French security forces when the plane was forced to land and refuel in Marseille, France. French snipers and hostage rescue forces stormed the aircraft, killing all the hostage takers. Algeria's Bloody Years, Bensmail, 40 mins.

[86] This event was later made into an independent film, "Of Gods and Men." James Mackenzie, (May 18, 2010), retrieved from Reuters website, (accessed August 20, 2011).

[87] Botha, Terrorism in the Maghreb, 80-81.