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Al Qaida exploiting resentment against some 700,000 Chinese workers in Algeria

CAIRO — The Al Qaida network is trying to whip up sentiment against the growing Chinese workforce in Algeria.   

Algerian security sources said the Al Qaida Organization in the Islamic Maghreb seeks to take advantage of the growing Asian labor force's impact on Algerians.

The sources said AQIM's focus has been the hundreds of thousands of Chinese nationals contracted to build highways, energy and other facilities.

The Algerian government has not released accurate statistics on the Chinese presence, Middle East Newsline reported. Analysts said the Chinese population in Algeria could reach 750,000.

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"The Chinese presence is very visible and plays on fears of a foreign takeover," a security source said.

On Aug. 4, Algerians and Chinese laborers fought with bludgeons and knives in the capital Algiers. About 100 people participated in street battles, capping what was termed unprecedented tension in the North African state. Algerian Muslims were also said to have been angered by the Chinese consumption of liquor.

Over the last year, AQIM has targeted Chinese laborers, particularly those involved in government projects. In July 2009, Beijing warned its nationals of an AQIM offensive amid Muslim clashes in China.

The sources said AQIM has also been targeting French and other Western laborers in Algeria, which has an unemployment rate of 70 percent. French companies have been involved in energy and security projects.

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