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Monday, August 29, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Al Qaida kill 18 officers in suicide attack
on Algerian military academy

CAIRO — Al Qaida has struck the Algerian military in the bloodiest attack in years.


At least 18 Algerian officers were killed in a suicide attack outside a military academy west of Algiers. Officials said an apparent Al Qaida suicide bomber detonated his explosive belt as he drove his motorcycle toward military cadets in Cherchel on Aug. 26.

Algeria has warned that AQIM was obtaining weapons and explosives from the arsenal of ousted Libyan ruler Moammar Gadhafi. Officials said AQIM has smuggled surface-to-air missiles, anti-tank rockets and other weapons from Libya to strongholds in Mali and Niger.

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On Aug. 26, a leading AQIM-linked smuggler was killed in northern Mali. The smuggler, Ibrahim Bahanga, was said to have been a key player in the flow of weapons from Libya.

"This shows once again that terrorist groups are trying through this despicable act to loosen the stranglehold imposed on them by security forces over the last few weeks," an Algerian Defense Ministry statement said on Aug. 27.

Officials said the attack highlighted the resurgence of Al Qaida Organization in the Islamic Maghreb. After more than a year of relative quiet, AQIM was succeeding in strikes on police and military patrols and facilities.

Security forces sealed off Cherchel, about 200 kilometers west of Algiers, in search for AQIM operatives. Officials said more than 20 people were injured in an attack in which AQIM claimed responsibility on Aug. 28.

"The army high command reiterates its determination to eliminate these criminal gangs and ensure peace throughout the country," the ministry said.

Officials said authorities were on alert for mass-casualty AQIM attacks during the Muslim fast month of Ramadan. They said the insurgency network has sought to demonstrate its capability to conduct suicide bombings, particularly against the military and police.

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