CAIRO Ñ Algerian forces were said to have captured a leading Islamic
insurgent. Algerian sources said counter-insurgency units captured Abu Turab
Al Rashid, the chief of the Armed Islamic Group, or the GIA. Al Rashid
what had been the largest insurgency group in Algeria.
Algeria has not issued an announcement regarding the capture of Al
Rashid. His arrest was also reported in the London-based Al Hayat daily on
The sources said Al Rashid was found in a search operation that began in
October and ended at a house in a suburb of Algiers. They said security
forces surrounded the home that contained Al Rashid and injured him in the
shootout that led to his capture.
For the last few weeks, Al Rashid has been recovering in a Algiers
hospital, the sources said. They said another leading GIA member was also
captured in the operation.
In February 2002, Al Rashid replaced Antar Zubabri as GIA head. The
capture of Al Rashid has been termed one of the biggest successes by
Algeria's military this year in its war against Islamic insurgents.
Since 1998, the GIA has been eclipsed by the much larger Salafist Brigade
for Combat and Call. The strength of the GIA was said to have dwindled to
about 100 members after many insurgents moved over to the Salafists or were
hired by Al Qaida elements to fight the U.S. military in Iraq.
In September 2002, Algerian security forces killed Abu Mohammed Al
Yemeni, an envoy of Al Qaida. Al Yemeni had been organizing an Al Qaida
network in Algeria and the safe haven for hundreds of members who had fled
from Afghanistan amid the U.S. invasion of that country in 2001.
On Wednesday, Algerian security forces captured an insurgency cell near
Annaba. 20 people were arrested in the sweep but insurgency leader Abou
Tourab fled to the Edough mountain region. Tourab has been implicated in the
killing of 12 police officers in the El Tarf Province. Security forces also
captured hand-made rockets, explosives and swords and sabers in the raid.
On Thursday, three people, including a security guard on his way to
work, were killed when their car was ambushed by insurgents northeast of Ain
Defla Province. A Turkish soldier was killed at Oued Djemaa one week