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
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
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
"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
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.