CAIRO Ñ A leading Algerian insurgency group has established a cell
for the assassination of intellectuals in the country.
The Salafist Brigade for Combat and Call is said to have formed a new
group meant to eliminate secular opponents. Government sources said the
focus was to be on scholars and figures in the media and arts.
The sources said the information was obtained by a member of the
Salafist group. The member was said to have told Algerian interrogators that
Salafist chief Hassan Khatab established a group last year called Al
Saraya Al Hura.
The detainee, identified as Umar Bushnaq, said he was part of the Al
Saraya group. He said the insurgency cell was responsible for all attacks on
Algerian civilians and police officers from May until July of 2002.
Bushnaq was captured in the province of Boumerdas last year. He was one
of scores of Salafist members captured in a government offensive in the
forests around the capital Algiers.
The new Al Saraya organization is divided into cells that are
responsible for different urban areas. Bushnaq said the aim of the Salafists
is to create chaos in Algiers and other major cities in an effort to force
the military to end its offensive against Islamic insurgents in the forests
and mountains in the central and eastern sector.
The Algerian military offensive began in January 2002 and proceeded in
stages throughout much of the countryside.