U.S. adds Salafists to terror list, boosts ties with Algeria

Monday, October 27, 2003

The Bush administration has added members of a leading North African insurgency group to the U.S. list of terrorist financiers and has upgraded security ties with Algeria.

The U.S. government has added two Algerians and one Tunisian to the list of persons suspected of having financed world terrorist organizations. The additions were identified as Mokhtar Belmokhtar of Ghardaia, Algeria; Mustapha Nasri Ait El Hadi of Tunis; and Djamel Lounici from Algiers.

The administration has also added a group aligned to the Salafist Brigade, Middle East Newsline reported. The group added to the terrorist financier list was identified as Al-Bakoun Ala Al Ahd Organization, also known as Faithful to the Oath. The group is also located in Algeria.

U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow said the three men were involved with the Salafist Brigade for Combat and Call. The Salafist organization is regarded as the biggest in Algeria and North Africa.

Snow said the listing means the three North African nationals would have their assets frozen in the United States. He did not say whether the three individuals have accounts or assets in the United States.

The Treasury Department said the Salafist Brigade Group for Call and Combat "continues to conduct operations aimed at government and military targets in Algeria and has ties to Al Qaida."

Meanwhile, the United States has expanded security and military aid to Algeria, including the sale of non-lethal weaponry to the North African state.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State William Burns said the Bush administration offered what he termed defensive systems to Algeria as part of expanded military aid and cooperation. Burns did not specify the weaponry.

During a weekend visit to Algiers, Burns said the United States provided Algeria with $700,000 a year for military equipment and training of security forces. That equipment is said to include night-vision and other non-lethal equipment.

"Counter-terrorism cooperation between our countries continues to be outstanding and of a great value," Burns said. "For our part, we are doing what we can to help Algeria finally put an end to the terrorist scourge that has ravaged the Algerian people for over a decade.

Under the International Military Education and Training Program, the U.S. Defense Department has been training Algerian military personnel in the United States. Since 2001, U.S. naval vessels have regularly visited Algeria and the two countries conducted a series of naval exercises. Algeria has also hosted senior U.S.

military officials in the framework of both NATO as well as bilateral contacts.

The U.S. weapons sent to Algeria have been meant for deployment against Islamic insurgents from such groups as the Armed Islamic Group and the Salafist Brigade for Combat and Call. Burns said the Algerian war against the Islamic insurgency has been conducted within the framework of respect of the law and human rights.

Burns said Algeria and the United States have extensive security cooperation and termed U.S. relations with Algeria as unprecedented. He said the two countries exchange information on insurgency groups.

"Algerian assistance is helping to save American lives, and we are grateful," Burns said.

Print this Article Print this Article Email this article Email this article Subscribe to this Feature Free Headline Alerts
Search Worldwide Web Search Search WorldTrib Archives

See current edition of

Return to World Front Cover