2005: Another Deadly Year in Islamic Terrorism
Al Qaeda & Affiliates
Posted: March 7, 2006
In 2005, Al Qaeda continued to adopt new patterns of operations in response to global counter-terrorism efforts, which have in recent years resulted in the capture and death of several of its top commanders. Despite serious disruptions to its network over the course of 2005, Al Qaeda-linked groups and individuals were responsible for some of the world's most devastating terrorist attacks, including the July bombings in London and the November bombings in Amman.
In its current incarnation, Al Qaeda relies less on centralized operations such as a hierarchical command structure and training camps. Instead, many of its activities are carried out by independent cells, like-minded organizations and ideological allies with loose ties to its core leadership. For example, the attacks on the resort town of Sharm el Sheik in July 2005 were planned and carried out primarily by local Bedouins with no apparent help from the outside. Yet an organization claiming to be affiliated with Al Qaeda, the Abdullah Azzam Brigades in Syria and Egypt, took responsibility for the attacks, which emulated tactics characteristic of Al Qaeda.
· The Salafist Group for Call and Combat (GSPC), an Algerian Islamic terrorist group affiliated with Al Qaeda, continued its efforts to expand its operations beyond Algeria's borders in 2005. In its largest attack ever outside its home country, 140 militants from the Al Qaeda-linked organization killed 15 soldiers and wounded 17 others in a June 4 raid on a military base in Mauritania in northwest Africa. The GSPC is known to have operatives and sympathizers throughout Western Europe, and in September the group reaffirmed its intention to strike Europe, calling France its "enemy number one." A major GSPC attack was later foiled by French authorities, who disrupted a plot to bomb targets around Paris, including Orly airport and the headquarters of the French intelligence agency. In addition to these foiled attacks, the GSPC's European network experienced other setbacks, as members were arrested in Italy, Spain, France, Canada, Algeria, England, the Netherlands and Belgium.
· Though the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group, one of Al Qaeda's primary European affiliates, conducted no major organized attacks during 2005, individual members were involved in terrorist operations in Iraq and Saudi Arabia over the course of the year. The most publicized of these was a suicide bombing in Iraq perpetrated by a Belgian-born woman, Muriel Degauque. Belgian authorities believe that her transportation to Iraq was arranged by the GICM. Additionally, the GICM was officially designated by the U.S. government as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) in 2005.
· Jemaah Islamiyah, an Al Qaeda-linked terrorist group that seeks to overthrow the Indonesian government and create an Islamic state in Southeast Asia, masterminded the October suicide bombings in Bali. The organization later suffered a serious operational setback as its Azahari Husin, the group's master bomb-maker, blew himself up during a raid on his safe house by Indonesian authorities.