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  Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM)


  Description: A globe is set against a black background. An AK-47 rifle and a black flag rise from the globe. Gray lettering below the globe reads, “In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.” The yellow lettering at the bottom says the name of the group, “Al Qaeda Organization in the Islamic Maghreb.”

Explanation: A black background (in flags and symbols) often represents death, militancy and the goal of restoring the Islamic caliphate – a united Muslim empire. The globe evokes the organization’s worldwide ambitions. The flag and rifle symbolize militancy. The declaration of faith, which is the first verse of every chapter in the Quran (but one) and is recited several times in daily prayer, denotes the centrality of Islam for the group.

| Name Variations | Overview | Focus of Operations | Major Attacks | Leaders | Ideology | Goals | Methods | Sponsors | U.S.- Related Activities |

Name Variations
Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), formerly Salafist Group for Call and Combat (GSPC)
Al Qaeda Organization in the Islamic Maghreb
Al Qaeda in the Maghreb

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), a group named for their location in North Africa, evolved from the Algerian militant group, the Salafist Group for Call and Combat (GSPC). GSPC formed in 1998 as an outgrowth of the once-powerful and extremely violent Groupe Islamique Armée (GIA). GIA’s popularity declined following a series of massacres in which it killed thousands of Algerian civilians.

In September 2006, the GSPC joined forces with Al Qaeda. Ayman al-Zawahiri announced a “blessed union” between the groups, declaring France an enemy and indicating that they would fight against French and American interests. In January 2007, the group announced that it had changed its name to Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) to reflect its alliance with Al Qaeda, from which it receives material and financial support.

AQIM carries out attacks against the Algerian military and also kidnaps Western tourists in an effort to weaken and ultimately overthrow the Algerian government, which it seeks to replace with Islamic rule based on a “pure” interpretation of the Quran. In 2007, AQIM attempted to assassinate the Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. AQIM aims to specifically focus attacks on Algerian, French and American targets. According to the Council on Foreign Relations, the organization has sent North African insurgents to Iraq to fight American and coalition forces as suicide bombers and foot soldiers.

In September 2007, founder and former leader Hassan Hattab surrendered to Algiers security services and accepted amnesty. In October 2007, Algerian security forces killed three terrorist members of AQIM - Abou Tourab, Oussama Abou Ishak, and Sofiane El-Fassila (second-in-command of AQIM and leader in Algiers) - during an anti-terror operation.

Focus of Operations
Algeria, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Chad, Senegal, and Nigeria

Major Attacks
  • September 8, 2007: Car bombing near Algerian coast guard officers. 28 dead, 30 injured.
  • September 6, 2007: Suicide bombing assassination attempt of Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. 22 dead, 107 injured.
  • April 11, 2007: Bombing of two buildings. 33 dead and over 200 injured.
  • February 13, 2007: Simultaneous car bombings of seven targets. 6 dead, 13 injured.
  • December 10, 2006: Bombing of a bus carrying employees of a company linked to the U.S. construction company Haliburton. 1 dead, 9 injured (including four Britons and an American).
  • April 8, 2005: Ambushed five cars at a phony roadblock. 14 dead, 1 injured.
  • February 12, 2004: mbush of Algerian paramilitary officers. 7 killed, 3 injured.
  • February 2003: 32 European tourists are kidnapped. 1 dead, 17 hostages rescued by Algerian troops on May 13, 2003, and 14 released in August 2003.
  • November 23, 2002: Ambush of a group of Algerian soldiers. 9 dead, 12 wounded.
  • Founder: Mokhtar Belmokhtar (in Algeria)
  • Founder and former leader: Hassan Hattab (GSPC)
  • Founder and former leader: Abdelmalek Droudkel, a.k.a. Abu Mussab Abdelouadoud (AQIM)
  • Former Leader: Sofiane El-Fassila (in Algiers)
  • Current Leader: In transition, but according to some observers Ahmed Haroun is the new leader
Militant Islamic Fundamentalism

Establishing a theocracy in Algeria, the Middle East, and ultimately worldwide. Also seeks to expel Westerners from historically Muslim lands.

Bombings, kidnappings, paramilitary operations against civilian and military targets.

The Algerian government has accused Iran and Sudan of funding the group. Al Qaeda also provides material and financial support to AQIM. In addition, AQIM has many members abroad, the majority located in Western Europe, who provide financial and logistical support.

U.S.-Related Activities
  • AQIM has reportedly sent North African insurgents to Iraq to fight American and coalition forces as suicide bombers and foot soldiers.
  • In response to GSPC activities, the U.S. launched the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Initiative (TSCTI) in 2005 with Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Mauritania, Mali, Chad, Niger, Nigeria, and Senegal.
  • On August 28, 2002, five members of the group were indicted in the U.S. on charges of providing material support and resources to terrorists.
  • In September of 2001, Dutch authorities foiled the group's plan to bomb the U.S. embassy in Paris.
  • Following the September 11 terrorist attacks on the U.S., the GSPC issued a public statement supporting Osama bin Laden's "jihad" against America.
  • Attacks are focused in part on American targets in North Africa.
  • Designated by the U.S. as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.

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