Thu, Jan 11, 2007 - Page 6 News List

Algerian terrorists in Web threat

TARGETS IDENTIFIED The leader of the GSPC rebels appealed to Osama bin Laden for instructions, while the French government were taking the Internet message seriously

AP , CAIRO

The leader of Algeria's main Islamic insurgency movement threatened to target US and French backers of the Algerian government in a video posted on an Islamic Web site.

France was taking the threat seriously, the country's Foreign Ministry said, adding that it is monitoring the activities of the Salafist Group for Call and Combat GSPC). The group recently announced links to al-Qaeda.

"America and France are looting [Algeria's] treasures and taking control over our destinies after the thief [Algerian President Abdelaziz] Bouteflika collaborated with them,"said Abu Musab Abdulwadood, the leader of the GSPC, in the video posted online on Tuesday.

"Just learn, O Bouteflika, along with your aides, the generals and your crusader masters, that we are coming with all God's might," he said.

Authenticity

It was not possible to verify the authenticity of the video message. Excerpts of it were released on the Internet on Saturday, and a full transcript of the 20-minute video appeared on Tuesday.

The group's leader, also known as Abdelmalek Dourkdel, vowed to press on with armed struggle and appealed to Osama bin Laden for instructions.

French anti-terrorism Judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere said such threats were not new.

"For more than a year, now, we have known that the GSPC is allied with al-Qaeda and that one of the targets is France," he told the I-tele news channel on Tuesday.

Jean-Baptiste Mattei, a French foreign ministry spokesman said the government "takes all terrorist threats very seriously."

GSPC operations have been confined to Algeria, but the group claimed responsibility for an attack near Algiers in November on employees of an affiliate of US company Halliburton. French authorities have voiced concerns over potential GSPC cells in Europe.

Union

Al-Qaeda announced its union with the GSPC for the first time in a video in September. Al-Qaeda's No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahri, said he hoped the alliance would work against Western interests, singling out the US and France, which colonized Algeria.

The GSPC is the only substantial group left over from an Islamic insurgency that was triggered in 1992 when the Algerian army stepped in to prevent a likely legislative election victory by the fundamentalist Islamic Salvation Front party. The ensuing fighting left an estimated 150,000 people dead.

The GSPC is now said to number just a few hundred fighters, though scattered attacks blamed on the group are reported nearly every week. It has sought to exploit international links after being cornered by security forces at home, analysts say.

Last week, an Algerian news report said the GSPC's original head, Hassan Hattab, plans to turn himself in to authorities as part of an amnesty program.

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