Al Qaeda Linked Group Responsible For Algeria Bombing

Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) AKA Al Qaeda Islamic Maghreb has claimed responsibility for the two bombs that went off near the UN offices and Constitutional Council buildings in Algiers and identified the two bombers  as Sheikh Ibrahim Abu Othman and Abdel Rahman Abu Abdel Nasser al-Asimi.

ALGIERS, Algeria (CNN) — Rescuers are sifting through the rubble of the United Nations headquarters in Algiers hoping to find survivors after a powerful bomb ripped off the building’s facade and leveled nearby U.N. offices.

art.algeria.bldg.afp.gi.jpg

Rescuers and bomb experts search for survivors in the rubble of a destroyed building.

It was one of two suspected car bombs that struck Algiers within 10 minutes of each other.

The death toll is unclear: the official government count is at least 26, but hospital sources in Algiers told CNN affiliate BFM-TV that 76 people were killed in the two blasts. A statement from the United Nations said 45 people were reported killed.

Algerian Interior Minister Noureddine Yazid Zerhouni blamed a militant Islamic group with ties to al Qaeda for the attacks, which also targeted a building housing Algeria’s Constitutional Council and Supreme Court.

In a posting on an Islamist Web site, the group al Qaeda Islamic Maghreb claimed responsibility.

CNN could not immediately corroborate that claim, but the Web site is known to carry messages, claims and videos from al Qaeda and other militant groups.

In the posting, the bombers were identified as Sheikh Ibrahim Abu Othman and Abdel Rahman Abu Abdel Nasser al-Asimi. It said two trucks were filled with “no less than 800 kg (1,763 pounds) of explosives.”

The group called the operation “another successful conquest and a second epic that the knights of faith have dictated with their blood, defending the wounded Islamic nation and in defiance to the Crusaders and their agents, the slaves of America and the sons of France.”

At least 10 U.N. staffers were among those killed, according to U.N. spokeswoman Marie Okabe.

The offices of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees — located across the street from the U.N. headquarters — were leveled by a blast that struck about 9:30 a.m. (3:30 a.m. ET) Tuesday.

“Our offices are basically destroyed now, nothing works,” UNHCR spokesman Ron Redmond said from its Geneva headquarters. Watch his full interview Video

He said rescuers are working into the night trying to get to the trapped U.N. workers. “It’s a very serious situation still with the U.N. in Algiers,” he said.

In a strongly worded statement, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned what he called “an abjectly cowardly strike against civilian officials serving humanity’s highest ideals under the U.N. banner.”

“The perpetrators of these crimes will not escape the strongest possible condemnation — and ultimate punishment — by Algerian authorities and the international community,” Ban said in the written statement.

He said he has sent senior advisers and other top U.N. officials to head to Algiers to assist in the investigation and rescue effort.

Most of those killed in the coordinated attacks were victims of the first suspected car bombing near the Constitutional Council — which oversees elections — and Supreme Court in the Algiers neighborhood of Ben Aknoun, according to the state-run Algeria Press Agency.

That blast struck a bus outside the targeted building, killing many of those on board, the news agency reported.

One man said he heard the first blast then the second exploded in front of him. “I saw the trees falling and the glass shattering in front of me. I had to run away from the car,” he said.

Zerhouni said the attack was the work of the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), the same group that took responsibility for an attack in April in downtown Algiers that killed 33 people.

That group also uses the name al Qaeda Islamic Maghreb after merging with al Qaeda earlier this year. It abandoned small-scale attacks in favor of headline-grabbing blasts after it joined with al Qaeda.

CNN International Security Correspondent Paula Newton said the merger combined the expertise of Algerian guerrillas with the operational ability of al Qaeda in North Africa, enabling the group to penetrate the usually extensive security in high-profile areas of Algiers.

She said the group’s goal is to destabilize countries like Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia, which it sees as enemies of the Islamic state.

Zerhouni said police interrogations of GSPC members arrested in the wake of the April attack revealed that Algeria’s Constitutional Council and Supreme Court were on a list of GSPC targets.

Algeria, which has a population of 33 million, is still recovering from more than a decade of violence that began after the military government called a halt to elections which an Islamist party was poised to win.

Tens of thousands of people died in the unrest. Although the country has remained relatively peaceful, recent terrorist attacks have raised fears of a slide back to violence

Advertisements

Islamic Terrorist Attack UN Refugee Agency In Alegria

Jihad on a UN Refugee Agency and Constitution Council in Algeria has killed at least 10 UN workers and many others in two bomb attacks. Some of the victims were on a school bus, so chances are these were children that the Islamic terrorist killed.

Two car bomb attacks, one of which targeted offices of the U.N. refugee agency, killed at least 45 people in the Algerian capital on Tuesday, authorities said.

The civil protection agency said one attack killed 30 people and that a second blast left another 15 people dead.

Interior Minister Noureddine Yazid Zerhouni, quoted by the official news agency APS, said the targets were the offices of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees and the seat of Algeria’s Constitutional Council.

The UNHCR’s chief spokesman, Ron Redmond, confirmed that the agency’s Algiers office was hit by an apparent car bomb, and that some staff were injured. He said the explosion happened at about 9:30 a.m. (0830 GMT) in a street where the offices of the UNHCR and the U.N. Development Program are both located.

“What is suspected to be a car bomb went off in the street,” he said.

APS said some victims of one of the attacks had been riding a school bus.

Public radio, Algiers Network 3, said the two bombs went off about 10 minutes apart.

Algerian TV images broadcast in France showed a badly damaged building with many windows blown out.

Algeria has been battling Islamic insurgents since the early 1990s, when the army canceled the second round of the country’s first-ever multiparty elections, stepping in to prevent likely victory by an Islamic fundamentalist party.

Islamist armed groups then turned to force to overthrow the government, with up to 200,000 people killed in the ensuing violence.

The last year has seen a series of bombings — many of them hitherto unheard of suicide attacks — against state targets.

Recent bombings have been claimed by al-Qaida in Islamic North Africa. That was the name adopted in January after the remnants of the insurgency, the Salafist Group for Call and Combat, or GSPC, formally linked with al-Qaida.

Once focused on toppling the Algerian government, the group has now turned its sights on international holy war and the fight against Western interests. French counterterrorism officials say it is drawing members from across North Africa.

A Sept. 6 attack during President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s visit to the eastern city of Batna killed 22 people, and a suicide bombing two days later on a coast guard barracks in the town of Dellys left at least 28 dead.

From the NY Times:

At Least 45 Dead in Algiers Bombings

Zohra Bensemra/Reuters

The Constitutional Court building in Algiers after the bombing today.

function getSharePasskey() { return ‘ex=1355115600&en=0b132277625e696f&ei=5124’;} function getShareURL() { return encodeURIComponent(‘http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/12/world/africa/12algiers.html’); } function getShareHeadline() { return encodeURIComponent(‘At Least 45 Dead in Algiers Bombings’); } function getShareDescription() { return encodeURIComponent(‘Two car bombs exploded today in what appears to be the deadliest attack in the capital in more than a decade.’); } function getShareKeywords() { return encodeURIComponent(‘Bombs and Explosives,Terrorism,Algeria,Algiers (Algeria)’); } function getShareSection() { return encodeURIComponent(‘world’); } function getShareSectionDisplay() { return encodeURIComponent(‘International / Africa’); } function getShareSubSection() { return encodeURIComponent(‘africa’); } function getShareByline() { return encodeURIComponent(‘By KATRIN BENNHOLD’); } function getSharePubdate() { return encodeURIComponent(‘December 12, 2007’); }

writePost();

Article Tools Sponsored By

Published: December 12, 2007

PARIS, Dec. 11 — Two car bombs exploded in close succession in the Algerian capital today, killing at least 45 people and wounding several others, according to Algerian officials. One official said it was the worst day of violence in the capital this decade.

Thirty people died in a blast near the Constitutional Court building in Algiers, while another 15 were killed in a second explosion near a number of United Nations offices, a diplomat said, citing information released by the Algerian Civil Protection Agency.

The Algerian interior minister, Noureddine Yazid Zerhouni, said that in both cases explosives had been strapped to vehicles, the Algerian press agency reported on its web site.

There was no immediate indication whether the twin attacks were the work of a well-known Salafist terrorist group with a long history of violence and alleged links to Al Qaeda.

The Group for Preaching and Combat, which is better known by its French initials, GSPC, has been under close watch by American and European counter-terrorism officials for several years.

The scrutiny intensified after the group announced last year that it had joined Al Qaeda in a bid to become its North African arm and organize extremists across the region.

Algeria suffered from intense violence after the Algerian army staged a coup to prevent an Islamic party from winning elections in 1992. The violence eventually subsided, but in recent years sporadic attacks have continued to disrupt life in Algeria and neighboring countries.

On April 11, a suicide bomb killed 33 people in Algiers. Responsibility for that attack was claimed by GSPC, also known as Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

That the bombing today occurred on the 11th of the month may be significant. The attack in April also occurred on the 11th. Both bring to mind the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States and the March 11, 2004, bombings in Madrid. After the April bombing, some terrorism experts suggested that the attacks added to the accumulating symbolism of that day of the month.

The aim of the terrorist group is to overthrow the government and install an Islamic theocracy in Algeria and throughout North Africa.

Al Qaeda’ s second in command, Ayman al-Zawahri, publicly anointed the group as Al Qaeda’s representative in North Africa on the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, and in January the group changed its name to Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, a region that includes Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco.

The group has apparently undergone a revival since then, drawing new members from across North Africa, terrorism experts in Europe and North Africa say. Governments on both sides of the Mediterranean fear that the group is coalescing into a regional terror movement.

Graham Bowley contributed reporting from New York.

Pictures:

VOA News

Television grab image taken from Algerian television channel Canal Algerie 11 shows people on the site of the explosion outside the Algiers office of the UN Higher Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 11 Dec 2007
Television grab image taken from Algerian television channel Canal Algerie 11 shows people on the site of the explosion outside the Algiers office of the UN Higher Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 11 Dec 2007

BBC

Rescuers search for survivors in the rubbles of a destroyed building close to the UN offices

Dozens of people have been killed in two bomb blasts in the Algerian capital, Algiers. Many are feared trapped in the debris of collapsed buildings.

Destroyed building of the United Nations refugee agency offices

The first struck the central El Biar area, near the constitutional court, followed shortly afterwards by an attack on this UN building in the Hydra neighbourhood.

Destroyed building of the United Nations refugee agency, Algiers

Algerian Interior Minister Yazid Zerhouni said the explosions were caused by two car bombs – with the second involving a suicide bomber.

A firefighter searches the rubble of a destroyed building near the UN offices

“The death toll is very high,” Mr Zerhouni said after the attacks, without giving a precise figure.

Rescue workers and bomb experts search a collapsed building for survivors

A UN employee caught up in the second blast told the BBC: “Everything shattered. Everything fell. I hid under a piece of furniture so I wouldn’t be hit by the debris.”

 

Rescuers wait to evacuate victims in the destroyed UN building, Algiers

The UN worker described swarms of people out on the streets, which initially impeded emergency services reaching the wounded.

Rescue workers and bomb experts inspect damaged cars near the destroyed UN building

There has been no immediate claim of responsibility. This is the latest in a series of bombings across the country this year in which scores of people have died.

Rescue workers search for survivors at a destroyed building near the UN offices

Many of the recent blasts have been claimed by members of al-Qaeda’s North Africa wing, calling themselves al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

From the AFP:

Algerian rescue workers and bomb experts search for survivors under the rubble

Father, Son & Holy Spirit, Chavez Violates Saudi Laws

During the recent OPEC meeting, Hugo Chavez violated Saudi Law, the conference was held in Saudi Arabia, by making the sign of the cross and making references to Christ. In Saudi Arabia it is illegal to public practice non-Muslim religions.

This could have been the crusher to his suggestion that OPEC dump the dollar for trade currency.

It is obvious from the tone and words of OPEC, that the use of oil as a political weapon is not going to happen.

Not that I agree with Saudi laws and practices, but it is their country and when you are in it you should respect their laws… This is similar to the point the Spanish were trying to make when King Juan Carlos told Hugo to shut up… Respect the other people you are dealing with. Hugo has no respect for anyone that does not think like him and support his dictor-like qualities. I guess that is his Nepolean Complex shining through.

Chavez crosses Saudi law at OPEC opening
Published on Monday, November 19, 2007
RIYADH (AFP): Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez broke Saudi Arabia’s strict religious laws during an opening address at an OPEC summit on Saturday by making a sign of the cross at the start of his speech.

The Catholic leftwing president, who issued a warning about rocketing oil prices and encouraged OPEC to become actively involved in foreign policy, began his speech with the ritualistic Christian hand movement.

He went on to make two references to Christ at a ceremony attended by Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah — the custodian of Islam’s holiest sites — and other leaders from the 12-member oil exporters’ group.

Under Saudi law, the act of practising a religion other than Islam in public and non-Islamic religious symbols are forbidden.

The ultra-conservative kingdom enforces a strict form of Sunni Islam known as Wahhabism and also forbids unrelated men and women from associating with each other, bans women from driving and requires them to cover head-to-toe in public.

Just before Chavez spoke — he opened the ceremony because he was the host of the last OPEC summit in Caracas in 2000 — verses of the Koran were read to the assembled delegates.

The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries counts Algeria, Angola, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Nigeria, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar as members.

13 Years of Injustice

Finally after 13 years, Interpol has decided to pursue the Iranian/Hezbollah terrorists that attacked and killed jews in teh 1994 Buenos Aires Bombing. It has been a long road and these individuals have walked around the Muslim world hailed as heros.

The real question is, how diligent will Interpol pursue these terrorists? Will Interpol do what it takes to bring these murders to justice?

What most forget is that this attack was a show that Hezbollah and Iran are international terrorists willing to travel half way around the world to kill Jews. It is  a clear example of the threat they really pose to the world, regardless of the blind eye the liberals turn towards them. It shows the real intent behind Iran’s President’s words when he threatens Israel’s existance and it demonstrates the threat Hezbollah poses in Lebanon with the Syrian/Iranian backing.

Iran Fights West on Warrants for 1994 Bombing in Buenos Aires
Tehran Tries To Overturn Interpol Decision Seeking Arrest of Officials

While the confrontation between Western powers and Iran centers most visibly on Tehran’s nuclear ambitions and its meddling in Iraq, the tension is also playing out in the arcane world of Interpol, the international criminal police organization.

Argentina’s president, Nestor Kirchner, pictured here at a memorial for the bombing of a Jewish center, is pushing for international arrest warrants to be issues for suspects in the bombing

Early next month in the Moroccan city of Marrakech, Interpol’s general assembly will vote to confirm a decision by its executive committee to issue priority arrest warrants for five former Iranian officials and a legendary Hezbollah operative, based on their alleged role in the bombing of a Jewish communal center in Argentina more than a decade ago.

The vote on the international warrants, known as “red notices,” was initially requested by Iran. Tehran was hoping to overturn a unanimous decision by Interpol’s executive committee last March to endorse an Argentine request for warrants. But as the vote approached and it became apparent that the executive committee decision would be upheld, Tehran tried in vain to postpone it.

“Iran lobbied but lost, and they now fear they will be stigmatized,” said Dina Siegel Vann, director of the American Jewish Committee’s Latino and Latin American Institute.

“Iran will for the first time not get away with murder and be able to flout international rules,” Vann said. “Interpol is not a political body like the United Nations General Assembly. It is made up of law-enforcement officials who decide on facts, not slogans.”

The still-ongoing investigation into the June 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center has provided the Bush administration with fodder for its long-standing claim that Iran is the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism. Combined with its nuclear program, its alleged weapons shipments to insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the fire-breathing rhetoric of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the terrorism accusation is helping cement the image of an irresponsible international actor.

At Interpol, the vote in favor of Argentina seems almost ensured. There is no precedent for an assembly vote overturning a decision by the 13-member executive committee — especially a unanimous one backed by delegates from Morocco and Algeria.

Nonetheless, Argentina has launched a full-court press to ensure the outcome. Argentine President Nestor Kirchner, addressing the United Nations General Assembly last month, denounced Iran’s lack of cooperation in the bombing probe and stressed the need for the international community to help out. Buenos Aires will also send the chief prosecutor on the case, Alberto Nisman, to Morocco to attend the Interpol meeting. Moreover, an Argentine judge announced last week that Juan José Galeano, the former investigating magistrate in the case, as well as former prosecutors and an ex-head of the Jewish community would face trial for irregularities that have marred the probe. Foremost is the suspicion that Galeano agreed to bribe a key witness.

After Galeano was disbarred in 2004, the indictment and the arrest warrants he had issued against Iran and Hezbollah in March 2003 suffered a setback at Interpol. In September 2005, the agency’s general assembly confirmed a decision by the executive committee to downgrade an Argentine request to issue nine red notices because they originated with Galeano. At that time, Thomas Fuentes, an FBI official representing the Western Hemisphere at the executive committee, voted against issuing red notices. That led to a downgrading of international efforts to find the suspects in the AMIA bombing, which killed 85 and wounded more than 300.

In November 2006, with a new magistrate on the case, Argentina issued a new indictment accusing the Iranian political leadership of ordering Hezbollah to conduct the attack. It also issued arrest warrants against seven Iranian officials, including former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, then-foreign minister Ali Akbar Velayati and then-Revolutionary Guard commander Mohsen Rezai. A warrant was also issued for Imad Mughniyeh, a Hezbollah operative believed to have orchestrated scores of attacks against Western and Jewish targets since the 1980s. Interpol was then asked to issue red notices based on the Argentinean warrants.

Iran has always denied any role in the attack.

At its meeting last March, the Interpol executive committee declined to authorize red notices against Rafsanjani, Velayati and a former ambassador who was briefly detained by Britain a few years ago but released for lack of evidence; however, it approved red notices against Mughniyeh and five Iranians: former intelligence minister Ali Fallahian, former Revolutionary Guard commander Rezai and diplomats Mohsen Rabbani, Ahmad Reza Asghari and Ahmad Vahidi. They are all believed to be living in Iran.

As a practical matter, a red notice is not an international warrant for arrest. Rather, it allows a national warrant — in this case, Argentina’s — to be circulated worldwide with the request that the wanted person be arrested and held for extradition.

Luis Grynwald, AMIA president, stressed that this is an especially important issue given that Argentina does not allow trials in absentia. “We need the support of the world to bring those suspects to justice,” he told the Forward, expressing his satisfaction over the efforts of the Kirchner administration to advance the probe. Still, other observers familiar with the case argue that progress is more cosmetic than real. They claim that the indictment issued by Nisman is similar to the one from Galeano.

“The answer is nothing,” said Marta Nercellas, the longtime attorney for Delegación de Asociaciones Israelitas Argentinas, Argentina’s central Jewish representative body, when asked about the differences between the indictments. “Each piece of evidence that I find convincing was already there.”

Gabriel Levinas, an Argentine journalist who has written at length about the case and seen much of the evidence, agrees. But he said he has serious doubts about the solidity of the allegations against Iran, noting that they rely mostly on intelligence and the testimony of Iranian defectors.

“The Interpol is a way to pressure Iran,” he said. “This was a political case from the get-go, and it has remained one until today.”

 Debka is reporting that Interpol has acted upon this.

Interpol’s Assembly Wednesday approves “red” tags for five Iranians and a Hizballah operative for 1994 bombing of Argentine Jewish center

November 7, 2007, 10:32 PM (GMT+02:00)

 

The Interpol general assembly meeting in Marrakech, Morocco tagged all six as wanted for extradition in connection with the attack which leveled the seven-story Jewish center in Buenos Aires, killing 85 people and shocking the 200,000 strong Argentine Jewish community. Thirteen years later, there has not been a single conviction. Argentine prosecutors accuse the five Iranian officials of sending Hizballah to blow up the explosives-laden van which destroyed the center. They say they have enough evidence to issue “red” notices for their extradition. The wanted men include former Iranian intelligence chief Ali Fallahian, former Revolutionary Guards chief Mohsen Rezai and Hizballah’s military chief Imad Mughniyeh. Iran claims the charge is political and has no intention of obeying the extradition orders