CAIRO Ñ Algeria's largest insurgency group has reaffirmed its
allegiance to Al Qaida in what appears to signal an increase in the already
close cooperation between the two organizations.
The Salafist Brigade for Combat and Call issued its first communique
under the new leadership headed by Nabil Sahwari, also known as Abu Ibrahim
Mustafa. Sahwari was said to have replaced Salafist leader Hassan Hattab in
August amid a power struggle that concerned the abduction of 32 Western
European tourists in the southern Sahara.
In the latest communique, the Salafist leadership said it would remain
loyal to Al Qaida and Taliban. The Salafist group said it would also support
the Islamic struggle in such places as Chechnya, Palestine and the
The Salafist group also called for unity of Islamic forces throughout
the world, Middle East Newsline reported. The communique said this must include cooperation in operations
The Salafist statement was regarded as significant because the group has
been deemed the leading subcontractor of Al Qaida. Western intelligence
sources said Salafist insurgents have been employed by Al Qaida for attacks
in North Africa and in France. The sources said the communique marked the
clearest expression of loyalty to Osama Bin Laden.
The communique, dated Sept. 11, 2003, said the new leadership of
Sahwahri withdrew its earlier reservations over the Al Qaida suicide strikes
on New York and Washington on Sept. 11, 2001. Weeks after the Al Qaida
strikes, Hattab's leadership issued a statement that said the killing of
3,000 Americans in the suicide air strikes did not represent the work of
Muslims, including Bin Laden.
The Salafist Brigade was said to have up to 4,000 insurgents around
North Africa and Europe. About 350 of them are said to operate in the area
east of Algiers.