Groupe Islamique Armé

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GIA ( Arabic الجماعة الإسلامية المسلّحة, French le Groupe Islamique Armé , Spanish el Grupo Islámico Armado ) is a term used by the French-speaking public in particular in the 1990s to summarize Islamist groups that committed violence and atrocities during the Algerian civil war . The GIA was active in Algeria from 1993 to 2005 and in France since the end of 1994. In the course of this, among other things, Western intelligence services exposed a European network of cells of radical Islamists .

The first unrest in Algeria occurred in January 1992 after the military junta there imposed martial law in order to be able to cancel the first free Algerian parliamentary elections . This was intended to prevent the Islamic Salvation Front from gaining power, which is considered to be certain . In April 1992, the Algerian President Muhammad Boudiaf was killed in an Islamist-motivated attack. In the further course of the unrest a multi-front civil war developed.

Form of organization and location

The GIA was seen as a theocentric , transnationally operating group made up of numerous subgroups. They were loosely related to each other, but were held together by a common ideology or doctrine. Nonetheless, individual interests developed within the subgroups, which resulted in internal conflicts. The declared opponents of the GIA were the Algerian military junta and its goals, government collaborators and government sympathizers, cosmopolitan academics and artists, members of the Berber tribes and foreign regimes that supported the respective Algerian presidents. The GIA recruited its followers in urban conurbations in Algeria. In addition, she recruited young migrants with North African roots in Paris. Recruits from Paris were sent to Afghanistan and Pakistan to be trained as mujahideen in the military camps there . In some cases cash payments were made, in some cases the recruits were blackmailed. In the years from 1994 to 1999, the absolute group size of the GIA was around 700 to 2,500 men. The number of helpers and accomplices was estimated at 5,000 to 6,000 people. Richard Chasdi , however, questioned these numbers.

Economy of Algeria and ideal backgrounds

The rentier economy of Algeria was mainly driven by natural gas and oil exports. Actually because of decades of mismanagement and nepotism, but ultimately in the shadow of the economic crisis at the end of the 1980s, large sections of the young Algerian population in particular suffered from the consequences of the long-term mass unemployment. Falling oil export prices and rising food import prices caused national impoverishment. This created an atmosphere of hopelessness:

“In times of need, Islamic institutions enjoyed growing popularity. Instead of the ailing state services, they took on public tasks in areas such as education and health care. "

The Islamists took the view that secularism, including its plurality and permissiveness, led to moral decline and favored public disorder. Public order should be restored solely on the basis of religious order. Two existential philosophies collided, the contradictions of which threatened to undermine the Algerian cultural identity and led to militant fanaticism and obscurantism . Historical anti-colonialist resentments directed against France and the French language, and the cultural influence of the Berber tribes , fueled the conflicts in Algeria. Nationalist as well as racist thinking released further destructive forces.

With the intervention of the IMF and with the assistance of European countries, the Algerian economy has only gradually recovered since 1995.

Tracing of events related to the GIA

The Groupe Islamique Armé carried out an assassination attempt on May 26, 1993 on the critical writer Tahar Djaout , to whom he succumbed a week later, at the age of 39. In the course of the Algerian civil war, unrest broke out in individual districts in large French cities in 1993. In early August 1994, GIA members also attacked a residential complex in Algeria that housed French gendarmes and consular workers. Within a few days, the gendarmerie carried out tens of thousands of ID checks and raids in French metropolitan areas. In the course of the investigation, 19 suspects were arrested and shortly afterwards deported to Burkina-Faso . The sometimes rigorous crackdown by the authorities was controversial among French parliamentarians, the question of the rule of law arose .

In mid-December 1994 GIA members hijacked an Air France aircraft on flight 8969 at Algiers airport . Most of the passengers - besides French - were Algerian citizens on the trip to Paris. Special commands prevented the kidnappers from taking off for several hours on instructions from the Algerian crisis team. At the insistence of the French government, the Algerian government finally gave the kidnappers permission to take off. Since the machine's generator set had been in operation for several hours on Algerian soil and had consumed considerable amounts of kerosene, the pilots had to stop in Marseille to refuel . During the negotiations with the kidnappers, the French crisis team decided that the plane should not be lifted off again. Eventually a GIGN squad overpowered the kidnappers. The event led to retaliatory actions on the part of radical Islamists in Algeria.

In early 1995, a peace summit between Algerian political parties and various interest groups took place in Sant'Egidio , Italy. Neither delegates from the Algerian government nor those from the GIA were represented in the negotiation group. Nevertheless, there was an offer that the GIA would refrain from atrocities in the future, provided that the Algerian government grants it a political forum. Some of the original GIA members were among the members of the Islamic Salvation Front represented at the summit; Over the years, other Islamists on the Salvation Front had defected to the GIA. Those deserters were Arab Afghans who had fought Soviet troops in Afghanistan as early as the 1980s and who had successfully overthrown Najibullah's pro-Soviet regime in Kabul . The Algerian secret service has repeatedly succeeded in infiltrating the GIA and deliberately hunted down Arab Afghans. The defectors were apparently “short-sighted” or “politically naive”, according to Richard Chasdi.

On June 12, 1995, the preacher Abdelbaki Sahraoui , a former co-founder of the Salvation Front, was the victim of an attack in Paris . A series of attacks attributed to the GIA subsequently took place in the city.

  • In the last week of June 1995, seven people died in a bomb explosion in the Métro Saint-Michel. Around 90 people were injured.
  • Around 20 people were injured on August 17, 1995 by a detonation near the Arc de Triomphe .
  • Another detonation occurred on September 3rd. 4 people were injured.
  • On October 6th, a gas bottle burst in the Métro Maison Blanche. 13 people were injured.
  • On October 17, an explosive device detonated on a line of the RER rapid transit railway; as a result, 29 people were injured.
  • Some assassination attempts failed.

At that time, the French authorities received around 1,400 bomb notices and the gendarmerie carried out over a million passport controls. Parking spaces in front of allegedly endangered public facilities were closed for a long time. The background to the Vigipirate plan provides further information.

In mid-June 1995 the gendarmerie carried out numerous house searches in metropolitan areas of various French cities. The action was directed against members of the GIA and members of the Islamic Salvation Front. About 140 people were taken into custody and the investigators confiscated weapons, money and passports. Among those arrested was Mohamed Skah, leader of the Tunisian Salvation Front. Almost one million francs worth around 200,000 US dollars were seized from him. 31 of the prisoners were released and charges were brought against 76. The investigators came across documents that showed smuggling via Great Britain and Germany.

In the spring of 1996, seven Trappist monks who were not involved in the war died in an act of violence in Algeria . The Algerian press, which was close to the government, soon revealed that the GIA was responsible for the deaths. It was not until 2009, in the course of a court hearing sought by the bereaved, that the former French military attaché Buchwalter stated that a few weeks after the incident he had received notification that the Algerian air force had suffered accidental collateral damage and that those responsible had subsequently attempted to darken the area. The disclosure of classified information was based on an initiative by Nicolas Sarkozy . Previously, the government version was that the Trappists had been kidnapped and later beheaded.

On June 25, 1998, Matoub Lounès , a France-based, Kabylesian- Algerian singer, died in an assassination attempt in Algeria, where he was staying due to bureaucratic formalities. Shortly after arriving in his hometown, he was gunned down, for which the Algerian government blamed the GIA. However, numerous witness statements, the course of events and circumstantial evidence contradict this version. As early as 1994, Lounès is said to have been under the control of the GIA for seven days. After widespread protests by the Kabyle people, he was released again. Lounès repeatedly expressed himself critical of the regime and society and processed his views artistically. He always advocated a pluralistic social order.

In the run-up to the 1998 World Cup, France and other EU countries made extensive efforts against radical Islamists in Europe. During a raid in Belgium, for example, police officers seized explosives, handguns and forged travel documents. Ten suspects suspected of belonging to the GIA were arrested. The media reported about GIA cells in Paris and other European capitals, including Berlin and London. The situation in Algeria was described as follows: "In the meantime, there are [holy leaflets] in front of the accounts, which are cheerfully distributed via the Internet, and bounties are being offered in the [religious charities]."

In 1998 the GIA became the Salafist group for preaching and fighting with around 700 supporters. Those Salafists networked with al-Qaeda at the beginning of 2007 and formed an alliance with other North African Islamists that became part of the AQIM, al-Qaeda in the Maghreb . Their sphere of influence extends to Spain, France and Central Africa (as of 2012).

Algerian security forces arrested GIA leader Boulenouar Oukil and GIA official Mohammed Hama in April 2005. Both were hiding in a mountain camp south of Algiers. The authorities had intensified their investigative efforts when Oukil set up a bogus roadblock near Larba in early April and shot approaching drivers indiscriminately. 14 people were killed. At the time, the GIA number was only about 50 men.

As part of an amnesty program of the Algerian government, the former GIA founder Abdelhak Layada was released from long-term imprisonment in March 2006 - as well as 2,200 former radical Islamists and 37,800 other prisoners. Additional cash payments from the government should make rehabilitation easier for those released . Layada then said that renewed storms of violence would break out if the amnesty were only implemented half-heartedly; without long-term political solutions, old wounds would not heal. He also stated that he was saddened by the atrocities of the GIA, but that he had no influence on them in the early course of the civil war. In March 2009, Layada told Reuters that the undemocratic policies of President Abd al-Aziz Bouteflika were dangerous, but that he recognized his government.

1996 report on the GIA for the protection of the constitution

The protection of the constitution under Minister of the Interior Manfred Kanther made a connection between Islamist activities and German internal security in the 1996 report on the protection of the constitution.

The Office for the Protection of the Constitution quantifies the number of suspects in Germany:

“Of the 18,000 or so Algerian nationals living in Germany, around 200 are clearly committed to the goals of one of the two Algerian Islamist groups, the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) and the Armed Islamic Group (GIA). [...] Most of them are close to the FIS, which has been banned in Algeria since 1992. "

The structure of the GIA is changing:

“The armed arm of the FIS, [namely] the Islamic Salvation Army (AIS), and the GIA, some of which rival the FIS, are pursuing the goal of [eliminating the state apparatus of Algeria and] establishing an Islamist state. After the death of its leader Djamel Zitouni [...] the GIA is facing fragmentation. Many GIA members no longer supported Zitouni's policy of eliminating political opponents and dissidents within their own ranks; there were splits. "

Islamists and their movements are monitored in Germany:

“The FIS has been trying for some time to organize itself in Germany. Meetings were held in various cities across Germany, with FIS representatives from Belgium as the main speakers. They repeatedly called on the meeting participants (in addition to Algerians, other North Africans and occasionally Egyptians and Palestinians) to support the struggle of the FIS and AIS, but at the same time distanced themselves from the GIA's [atrocities] against the Algerian civilian population. "

Helpers and accomplices with connections to Algeria are looking forward to proceedings in Germany:

"In the preliminary investigation initiated in 1995 against a total of ten people who were allegedly [involved] in the procurement and transport of weapons and other logistical material in support of the Islamist groups in Algeria, the Federal Prosecutor brought charges in four cases of suspected formation of a criminal organization (§ 129 StGB) charged. The criminal proceedings against these four people, including two sons of FIS founder Abbassi Madani, [took place ...] before the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court . Outside Algeria , Rabah Kebir, the head of the FIS executive body abroad , who lives in Germany and was forbidden to be politically active in 1994, continues to represent the FIS . "

As early as 1996, when computers, network access and web space still cost a small fortune, Islamists strolled on the Internet:

“In addition to the print media, the use of new [...] information technology is becoming increasingly important for extremist foreigners organizations. […] The Internet in particular [enables…] the fast, cross-border and unobserved transmission of your information. […] The internal, worldwide cooperation of these groups [will be simplified] and thus [increased] their ability to act. […] Extremist foreigner organizations [,] such as the Algerian Armed Islamic Group (GIA), the Sri Lankan Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) or the political arm of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) […], […] have their own Homepages [on the Internet] represented. "

Description of a network of cells in Europe:

“Many extremist foreigners organizations operate the smuggling in, out and onward of officials and supporters. Smuggling enables extremist groups of foreigners [a] to let officials from their home countries disappear, [b] to deploy officials undetected in Germany and [c] to recruit people who have been smuggled in, because they are obliged to show gratitude to the group . [...] Smuggling into Germany takes place either via the green border or via an official border crossing using forged or falsified travel documents. [...] For some time now, Algerian Islamist groups have had a system that works based on the division of labor with international bases for smuggling activists into Europe. Alongside other European countries, Germany is not only a destination for smuggling, but also a stopover for smuggling on to other countries. "

The Office for the Protection of the Constitution justifies its basis for action:

“The spectrum of Islamists extends [with regard to] the use of force from politically pragmatic to terrorist (e.g. Armed Islamic Group (GIA)). So far, no acts of violence have been committed in Germany on behalf of an Islamist organization. Islamist propaganda is, however, suitable for promoting a ghettoization [of people with an Islamic orientation], which would have a politically and socially disadvantageous effect on peaceful coexistence within the framework of a democratic social order. […] Islamist-dominated [sites of religious welfare], such as the Islamic Centers of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), to which the Algerian Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) belongs among others, serve to spread Islamist ideology . "

Individual evidence

  1. Richard J. Chasdi, "Tapestry of Terror: Middle East Terrorism 1994-1999," ISBN 978-0-7391-0355-5 , pp. 73-76.
  2. a b Michael Ignatieff: Algerian nightmares. In: February 5, 1998, accessed December 19, 2014 .
  3. ^ Bernard-Henri Lévy: A journey through Algeria - the land of massacres. In: January 16, 1998, accessed December 19, 2014 .
  4. a b Hans-Christoph book: The defensive Berbers. In: April 16, 1998, accessed December 19, 2014 .
  5. see also: Jacqueline Hénard: Panzerfäuste, rockets. In: September 20, 2001, accessed December 19, 2014 .
  6. see also: Edward F. Mickolus, Susan L. Simmons: Terrorism, 1992–1995: a chronology of events and a selectively annotated bibliography. Greenwood Press, Westport, Conn. 1997, ISBN 0-313-30468-8 , p. 672.
  7. cf. Werner Ruf: Algerian state collapse. In: Blätter für German and international politics 2001. No. 8, pp. 907–910, (PDF; 41 kB)
  8. cf. Michael Lueders: Between civil war and blood revenge. In: September 5, 1997, accessed December 19, 2014 .
  9. cf. Ali Al-Nasani: ESSAY: The everyday massacre. In: September 26, 2002, accessed December 19, 2014 .
  10. cf. Tahar Ben Jelloun: The break with the West. In: July 12, 1996, accessed December 19, 2014 .
  11. ^ A b Frank Jansen, Johannes Schneider: Investigations of Toulouse: The trace of the young radical. In: March 23, 2012, accessed December 19, 2014 .
  12. cf. Michael Lüders: Missed reforms and a failed economic policy have plunged Algeria into misery. Poverty and powerlessness drive the spiral of violence: The silent war. In: December 17, 1993, accessed December 19, 2014 .
  13. Algeria-Watch, January 11, 2012, “Assassinats d'étrangers entre 1993 et ​​2010”,
  14. vfl. Wolfgang Hoffmann: Business as usual. In: February 13, 1998, accessed December 19, 2014 .
  15. cf. Algeria-Watch, “Arrest of Soufiane Naami on his arrival at the airport in Algiers”,
  16. see Mickolus, Simons, Simons, “Terrorism, 1992–1995: A Chronology of Events […]”, ISBN 0-313-30468-8 , p. 664.
  17. see TV report by the BBC, "Air Crash Investigations - Hijacked (Air France Flight 8969)"
  18. see Mickolus, Simons, Simons, “Terrorism, 1992–1995: A Chronology of Events […]”, ISBN 0-313-30468-8 , pp. 747f.
  19. cf. Richard J. Chasdi, "Tapestry of Terror: Middle East Terrorism 1994-1999", ISBN 978-0-7391-0355-5 , pp. 74f.
  20. a b cf. Fredy Gsteiger: The murderers can lurk anywhere. In: September 15, 1995, accessed December 19, 2014 .
  21. Participant, contract: ( Memento of the original from August 1, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link has been inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  22. Participant, contract:
  23. cf. Jacqueline Hénard: Barbès mon amour. In: March 31, 1999, accessed December 19, 2014 .
  24. cf. Tahar Ben Jelloun: In the shadow of the past. In: December 13, 1996, accessed December 19, 2014 .
  25. cf. Mickolus, Simons, Simons, "Terrorism, 1992–1995: A Chronology of Events […]", ISBN 0-313-30468-8 , p. 825 (f)
  26. cf. Algeria-Watch, “Murder of monks was foisted on Islamists”,
  27. cf. IRISH TIMES, July 7, 2009, “Sarkozy to release details about beheaded monks in Algeria”,
  28. cf. Algeria-Watch, information folder 15, January 2001, “Who killed Lounes Matoub?”,
  29. cf. Matoub Lounès
  30. cf.
  31. cf. engl. Wikipedia article
  32. Department of State 10610, Coordinator for Counterterrorism, "Patterns of Global Terrorism 1998", Europe / Belgium, (PDF file)
  33. ^ André Glucksmann: Who Murders Babies? In: January 23, 1998, accessed December 19, 2014 .
  34. cf. Hans Krech 2011, " The Growing Influence of Al-Qaeda on the African Continent ", p. 126, in: Africa Spectrum, 46, 2, ISSN  0002-0397 , pp. 125-137 (print), ISSN  1868-6869 ( Online), German Institute of Global and Areal Studies
  35. cf. WORLD TRIBUNE, May 3, 2005, “Algeria captures insurgency leader”, ( Memento of the original from March 4, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  36. cf. BBC NEWS, April 29, 2005, “Algeria's top GIA rebel captured”,
  37. cf. NEW YORK TIMES, June 28, 2006, Craig S. Smith, "Algeria offers allegory of amnesty,"
  38. cf.  ( Page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@ 2Template: Dead Link /  
  39. cf. REUTERS, April 6, 2009, Lamine Chikhi, “Analysis - Algeria's security tied to political freedom”,
  40. ^ Constitutional Protection Report 1996, published by the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Bonn, May 1997, ISSN  0177-0357
  41. a b c Verfassungsschutz Report 1996, published by the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Bonn, May 1997, ISSN  0177-0357 , p. 201.
  42. Verfassungsschutz Report 1996, published by the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Bonn, May 1997, ISSN  0177-0357 , p. 202.
  43. Verfassungsschutz Report 1996, published by the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Bonn, May 1997, ISSN  0177-0357 , pp. 181f.
  44. Verfassungsschutz Report 1996, published by the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Bonn, May 1997, ISSN  0177-0357 , p. 182f.
  45. Verfassungsschutz Report 1996, published by the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Bonn, May 1997, ISSN  0177-0357 , p. 181.

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