Algiers bombing: the NY Times version


Richard Moore

The terrorist group Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb claimed
responsibility, posting a message on Islamist Web sites with
photographs of two men it claimed were suicide bombers who
carried out the attacks, which it said were aimed at ³the
Crusaders and their agents, the slaves of America and the
sons of France.²

How very convenient. I'm wondering why Bin Laden, or some look-alike, didn't 
make a cameo appearance in the video. I also wonder whether the CIA produces 
these videos in-house, or whether they contract them out to some production 

I'm also wondering what payoff is being sought from this incident. Is it to move
Algeria in a certain direction? I'm suspecting that it is intended as a 'message
to Europe', an attempt to shift public opinion a bit closer to the imperialist 
American line.

BBC was all prepared the next day with an 'in-depth analysis' of the event, and 
whenever that happens one knows the 'analysis' (ie propaganda message) was being
prepared prior to the 'surprise' event. The propaganda message was that a 
'recently formed' Al Qaeda contingent was preparing itself to operate in Europe.
The way they talked about the internal psychology and strategy of this 'new 
contingent', one would guess they had moles in every part of the organization. 
Of course the question is never raised: "If you know so much about these guys, 
how come you never catch any of them or prevent any of their attacks?"


Original source URL:

December 12, 2007

Twin Bombs Kill Dozens in Algiers

ALGIERS ‹ Twin car bombs near United Nations offices and an Algerian government 
building killed dozens of people Tuesday in what may have been the deadliest 
attack here in more than a decade.

Two European diplomats in Algiers said that reports from rescue and medical 
workers led them to believe that 60 or more people had died. By Tuesday evening,
26 deaths had been confirmed by the Algerian Interior Ministry.

The terrorist group Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb claimed responsibility, 
posting a message on Islamist Web sites with photographs of two men it claimed 
were suicide bombers who carried out the attacks, which it said were aimed at 
³the Crusaders and their agents, the slaves of America and the sons of France.²

Some of the dead were students aboard a bus that was on its way to a university 
when it was struck by the first car bomb. Late Tuesday night, about 200 people 
huddled outside the police perimeter as rescue workers in dusty overalls and 
helmets worked to recover those still trapped inside.

A ray of light from the mountain of rubble that had been the United Nations 
building marked the spot where the police and firemen worked into the night to 
recover at least one survivor.

One woman said she had been there since the morning and was still waiting for 
news of two cousins and a friend who worked in the building. ³We¹ve had no news 
yet, no sign of life,² she said as a friend comforted her. While she spoke, a 
caravan of trucks towed away burned-out cars and an ambulance passed carrying a 
body in a white bag.

Marie Okabe, the deputy spokeswoman for Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, said 
preliminary figures showed that at least 11 United Nations staff members had 
died and that the organization was trying to account for several others who were

³Our people are working with Algerian authorities in pulling people from the 
rubble,² she told reporters at a news briefing in New York.

Mr. Ban, who was at a climate change conference in Bali, issued a statement 
condemning the bombing as ³base, indecent and unjustifiable by even the most 
barbarous political standard.² He said he had ordered an immediate review of 
United Nations security precautions and policies in Algeria.

The first bomb exploded shortly before 9:30 a.m. outside Algeria¹s 
Constitutional Council in the Ben Aknoun neighborhood. The council oversees the 
country¹s elections. The bomb stripped away the facade of the white 
Moorish-style building, which had only recently been built by a Chinese 
construction company. The bus carrying the students who were killed was on its 
way to the nearby Ben Aknoun university campus when the explosion occurred.

The bomb near the United Nations building exploded about 10 minutes later on 
narrow Émile Payen Street, collapsing much of the white multistory building and 
hurling chunks of rubble across the street. It left the roadway carpeted for 
blocks with shattered glass.

The organizations housed in the damaged building include the United Nations 
Development Program, the World Food Program, the Population Fund, the 
International Labor Organization and the Industrial Development Organization, as
well as the Safety and Security Office and the Public Information offices.

The blast sheered the front walls off nearby buildings, including one housing 
the United Nations refugee agency. At least one staff member was killed there.

Ms. Okabe said the United Nations had 19 permanent international staff members 
in Algeria and 21 temporary ones. She said the United Nations employed 110 local
staff members in the country.

It was the first time that a recent bombing campaign by Islamist militants had 
touched the area, a quiet residential neighborhood known as Hydra, which is home
to many embassies and their diplomats, on the so-called heights of Algiers. 
While security in the area is relatively tight, traffic was not restricted in 
front of the United Nations building.

The message posted by Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb identified one of the men 
it said was a bomber as Ibrahim Abu Uthman, who had a gray moustache and 
appeared to be in his 50s. The second, identified as Abdul Rahman Abu Abdul 
Nasser Al-Aassemi, was younger and smiling. The message said each detonated a 
truck containing about 1,800 pounds of explosives.

Several witnesses reported seeing a white truck or van drive into the United 
Nations compound moments before the blast.

President Bush condemned the attacks, calling them ³senseless violence.²

³The United States stands with the people of Algeria, as well as the United 
Nations, as they deal with this senseless violence,² the White House said in a 
statement. The United States military and intelligence agencies have been active
in helping Algeria combat terrorist threats.

The 11th has become a day of choice for major Islamic terrorist attacks, 
beginning with those in the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, followed by one in 
Djerba, Tunisia, on April 11, 2002, and one in Madrid on March 11, 2004. On 
April 11, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb exploded two car bombs in the capital,
killing 33.

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb was founded in 1998 as the Salafist Group for 
Preaching and Combat, an offshoot of the Armed Islamic Group, which along with 
other Islamist guerrilla forces fought a brutal decade-long civil war after the 
Algerian military canceled elections in early 1992 because an Islamist party was
poised to win.

The group¹s stated aim is to overthrow the government and install an Islamic 
theocracy in Algeria and throughout North Africa.

In 2003, a leader of the Salafist group in southern Algeria kidnapped 32 
European tourists, some of whom were released for a ransom of about $7.3 
million, paid by Germany.

Officials say the group¹s leader, Amari Saifi, bought weapons and recruited 
fighters before the United States military helped corner and catch him in 2004. 
He is now serving a life sentence in Algeria.

While most estimates put the current membership of the group in the hundreds, it
has survived more than a decade of Algerian government attempts to eradicate it.
It is now the best organized and best financed terrorist group in the region.

Last year, on the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, Al Qaeda chose the 
Salafist group as its representative in North Africa. In January, the group 
reciprocated by switching its name to Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, saying 
Mr. bin Laden had ordered the change.

Following the name change, the group became increasingly active with a string of
bombings across the country.

A Sept. 6 attack during President Abdelaziz Bouteflika¹s visit to the eastern 
city of Batna killed 22 people, and a suicide-bombing two days later on a coast 
guard barracks in the town of Dellys left at least 28 dead.

The government has responded with a counterinsurgency campaign that has killed 
dozens of the group¹s members and captured several of their leaders.

Under the leadership of Abdelmalek Droukdel, the group has also made an effort 
to emerge as part of the global Islamic jihad and now draws support from beyond 
Algeria¹s borders.

Javier Jordán, director of Athena Intelligence, a Spanish research group focused
on Islamist issues, said intelligence sources had tracked Islamists traveling 
between Algeria and the Afghan-Pakistani border region or Iraq. ³This is not 
just a question of a new brand, but of operational links,² he said.

Mr. Jordán said the timing and choice of targets in Tuesday¹s attacks appeared 
to confirm the group¹s ³growing global focus and its evolution into an arm of Al

Katrin Bennhold reported from Paris and Algiers, and Craig S. Smith from Paris. 
Warren Hoge contributed reporting from the United Nations, and Victoria Burnett 
from Madrid.

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

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