Al Qaeda hits UN offices, courts, police station in Algiers


Damage from the bombing outside the Constitutional Court. AP photo via Algerian TV.

A pair of car bombs in the Algerian capital of Algiers has killed at least 47 and wounded an unknown number of people. The death toll is feared to be over 60. One bombing occurred in front of the Constitutional Court, while the other detonated outside the UN refugee agency and a police station; the attacks occurred in different neighborhoods in Algiers. Reports indicate the bombs were detonated 10 minutes apart. Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which has taken credit for similar attacks in the past, is the culprit.

The blast in front of the UN refugee agency and police station is believed to have been a suicide bombing. “The explosion occurred around 9:30 a.m. (3:30 a.m. EST) and blew off the front off the U.N. refugee agency building,” UNHCR chief spokesman Ron Redmond told the Associated Press. “It apparently caused even worse damage to the main U.N. building housing the U.N. Development Program and other agencies diagonally across the street.”

algeria-al-qaeda-bombings-map-12112007.jpgAt least 10 UN employees were reported killed. Several school buses were reportedly destroyed on the street outside the attack on the Constitutional Court.

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb most certainly conducted the Algiers bombings. The mode of attack – coordinated bombings against government and international institutions designed to inflict massive casualties and maximum media coverage – is al Qaeda’s specialties. The North African branch of al Qaeda has taken credit for similar strikes in the past.

On April 11, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb took credit for a pair of coordinated suicide bombings in the capital. A powerful bomb was detonated outside the headquarters of Prime Minister Abdelaziz Belkhadem’s headquarters in Algiers, and another blast occurred outside the headquarters of the security forces.

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb took credit for two suicide attacks in Algeria over the course of three days in September. The first attack targeted the Algerian president during a visit to the town of Batna while the second attack targeted a coast guard barracks in Dellys in eastern Algeria. At least 69 were killed and 154 were wounded in the suicide bombings.

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb is the result of Al Qaeda’s efforts to unite the various Salafist terror groups in North Africa and stems from the merger of the Algerian Salafist Group for Prayer and Combat (GSPC), the Moroccan Islamic Combat Group, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, and the Tunisian Combatant Group. The GSPC forms the nucleus of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

The Libyan Islamic Fighting Group officially joined al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb after al Qaeda in Afghanistan commander Abu Laith al Libi released a statement on the Internet November 3. Abu Laith al Libi is a senior al Qaeda commander.

While the GSPC has always had very close relationship with al Qaeda, the terror group officially merged with al Qaeda in September 2006. GSPC officially renamed the group al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in January 2007. “We had wished to do this from the first day we joined (al Qaeda) but we wanted the permission of Sheikh Osama, may God protect him. This obstacle has now been removed,” according to a GSPC statement released on its website.

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb fighters have trained in terror camps in Pakistan and fought Coalition and Iraqi forces in Iraq.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • The Religion of Peace strikes again

    This time in Algeria, where brave, brave jihadis of “Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb” set off multiple car bombs attacking the Algerian Constitutional Court and the headquarters of the UN refugee agency in Algeria: A pair of car bombs in

  • Ammo Guy says:

    And how long will it take before this outrage is blamed on Bush and the US? Sigh. Interesting timing since Sarkozy was there last week to embrace the contributions of the Harkis during the Algerian War. Wonder if the bombers held fire on purpose until he left or were stymied by higher security for a visiting head of state.

  • ds says:

    How long until Al-Qaeda terrorists trained in Pakistan hit a major American target?
    I hope I’m wrong, but I have a strong suspicion that it’ll happen while we’re wringing our hands trying to figure our how to finesse the Musharraf-led government into actually going after terrorists.
    I have no answer, but it’s frustrating knowing that the U.S. knows where Al-Qaeda is and what they’re planning, but can’t reach out and annihilate them.

  • Shawn says:

    I continually amazed that one sect of Islam feels the liberty to harm the followers of another. Algerian Muslims are primarily Sunni. al-Qaed in Islamic Mahgreb has Salafist roots. Murder and terror is the Salatist gospel. It can’t below before they start “evangelizing” other continents.

  • joe says:

    These attacks demonstrate that despite the losses of several key figures AQIM is still incredibly lethal and growing bolder. Unfortunatly, AQIM will be a force to be reckoned with for quite some time. It is very likely that many fighters from the maghreb fought in Iraq and are taking what they learned against the finest military in the world and will apply their deadly trade back home. Their decision to employ suicide attacks gives them so many more tactical options against the government. Suicide attacks are really an incredible weapon for a small terrorist organization.

  • What? says:

    “It is very likely that many fighters from the maghreb fought in Iraq and are taking what they learned against the finest military in the world and will apply their deadly trade back home.”
    The only thing Al Qaeda fighters are learning in Iraq is how to get beat. I don’t know about you but all the stories I’ve heard about the Jihadis that go to Iraq is that they don’t come back because they are either die or are captured.
    Al Qaeda was blowing up stuff just like this attack long before we invaded Iraq. To suggest that Iraq is nursery for such attacks may be true, but then again maybe not. Without clear evidence, I’d say more likely the answer is maybe not.

  • Neo says:

    I see no sign as of yet that anything happening in Algeria has much to do with what is going on in Iraq other than sympathetic aspirations. There are still enough radicals left over from the failed attempt to overthrow the Algerian government back in the late 80’s and 90’s. That conflict was every bit as bloody as the current Iraqi war but was largely invisible to western news agencies at the time.
    Why now? Al Qaeda is trying to say it is still relevant, and can reach out and touch their enemies. I actually think this sort of thing will deeply hurt Al Qaeda though. It is fellow Muslims that are taking the brunt of this and it looks too much like random criminal violence. This sort of thing will impress the hard core nuts but Al Qaeda is preaching to the choir on that. Others will increasingly be disgusted at this sort of thing.

  • Turner says:

    I agree with Neo. Algeria has been a long slog, but the things I’ve read indicate that, in the end, the people became sick of the islamists and their violence. Remember, Algeria is another country that al Quada had to pull back from after failing to contain the people.
    Regarding TRAINING terrorists in Iraq, that may be so. We’ve certainly trained them to run. We’ve trained them that you can’t protect yourself with a blanket of innocents because the innocents eventually break free when we’re around to recieve them. Have we also trained them in tactics? For the few that had the guts to stick to the fight and remained alive, I think that would be true. Since they have to hide behind masks and can’t train on a regular basis in the combat zone, this sporadic experience is probably meaningful.
    Regarding INSPIRING terrorists, that’s up to us here at home as much as anything else. If we let anti-american and anti-democratic propaganda, go by unexamined and undebated and unchallenged…. Yes, Iraq becomes more of a recruiting tool, for a while at least. If we highlight the “Gift of Foreigners” that Fouad Ajami has referenced in Iraq, we dampen the frenzy that causes people to believe killing themselves is worthwhile. We have a long way to go in re-learning the skill pf championing our cause.


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