Al Qaida-linked Salafists also backing Chechens

Tuesday, September 7, 2004

Algeria has concluded that a leading Al Qaida-linked insurgency group has supported the Chechen revolt against Russia.

Algerian security sources said authorities have determined that the Salafist Brigade for Combat and Call has forged strong links with the Al Qaida-inspired insurgency in Chechnya. The sources said Salafist operatives have recruited Algerians to fight in Chechnya as well as divert money and other resources for the insurgency against Moscow.

Russia has reported that at least 10 of the 32 suicide attackers involved in the bloody takeover of a high school in North Ossetia were Arab nationals. So far, the nationals have been identified as Jordanians, Saudis and Syrians.

Still, Algerians have played a major role in the Arab contribution to the Chechen revolt as well as that in Bosnia, Algerian sources said. They said Salafist operatives also recruited Algerians to fight in Bosnia as well as in Kosovo, Middle East Newsline reported.

The Salafist link to the Chechen revolt was said to have been intensified under the policy set by the organization's late leader Nabil Sahrawi. Sahrawi was appointed leader of the insurgency group in August 2003 and killed by Algerian troops in June 2004. Last week, the Salafist Brigade acknowledged the death of Sahrawi.

The Algerian assessment was issued in wake of the arrest of 30 Salafist operatives in June 2004. The sources said many of the operatives were found to have received money to supply recruits and expertise to Islamic insurgencies abroad, including that in Chechnya.

The sources said the Salafist operatives captured in June were found to have possessed videos meant to recruit Muslims to join the revolt in Chechnya. The videos showed suicide and other operations by Arab insurgents against Russian troops in Chechnya.

The sources said the Salafist Brigade appears to have been financing some of its activities by providing Arab recruits for the war in Chechnya.

Until 2004, the Salafists were regarded as the leading subcontractor of Al Qaida, which has sponsored the pan-Arab contribution to the revolt against Moscow.

On Monday, the Salafist Brigade announced the selection of a new leader to replace Sahrawi. The new leader was identified as Abu Mussib Abdul Wadud, a 32-year-old chemist and an explosives expert. Islamic sources said the Salafists also appointed other senior commanders.

Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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