Armed Islamic Group of Algeria
|Armed Islamic Group|
الجماعة الإسلامية المسلّحة
|Dates of operation||1993–2004|
|Motives||The creation of an |
The Armed Islamic Group (GIA, from
Unlike the other main armed groups, the Mouvement Islamique Arme (MIA) and later the Islamic Salvation Army (AIS), in its pursuit of an Islamic state the GIA sought not to pressure the government into concessions but to destabilise and overthrow it, to "purge the land of the ungodly". Its slogan inscribed on all communiques was: "no agreement, no truce, no dialogue". The group desired to create "an atmosphere of general insecurity" and employed kidnapping, assassination, and bombings, including car bombs and targeted not only security forces but civilians.
Between 1992 and 1998, the GIA conducted a violent campaign of
The "undisputed principal Islamist force" in Algeria in 1994, by 1996, militants were deserting "in droves", alienated by its execution of civilians and Islamists leaders. In 1999, a government amnesty law motivated large numbers of jihadis to "repent". The remnants of the GIA proper were hunted down over the next two years, leaving a splinter group the
The GIA was and is considered a terrorist organisation by the governments of Algeria and
According to Algerian veterans of the
Early in 1992,
Mansour Meliani, a former aid to Bouyali, along with many "
The economic state of Algeria was a dire situation, where the majority of the young people were unemployed. In Algeria, there was no middle class, there were the rich and there were the poor, leaving many young people no hope for the future. The GIA was able to act as a place for young men to feel a part of something larger.
Leveilley was replaced in January 1993 by
Beside's the GIA, the other major branch of the Algerian resistance was the Islamic Armed Movement (MIA). It was led by the ex-soldier "General" Abdelkader Chebouti, and was "well-organized and structured and favored a long-term jihad" targeting the state and its representatives and based on a guerrilla campaign like that of the War of Independence. From prison, Ali Benhadj issued a fatwa giving the MIA his blessing.
In August 1993, Seif Allah Djafar, aka Mourad Si Ahmed, aka Djafar al-Afghani, a 30-year-old black marketer with no education beyond primary school, became GIA amir. Violence escalated under Djafar, as did the GIA's base of support outside of Algeria.
Under him, the group named and assassinated specific journalists and intellectuals (such as
About the time al-Afghani took power of GIA, a group of Algerian jihadists returning from Afghanistan came to London. Together with Islamist intellectual
The GIA soon broadened its attacks to civilians who refused to live by their prohibitions, and then foreigners living in Algeria. A hostage released on 31 October 1993 carried a message ordering foreigners to "leave the country. We are giving you one month. Anyone who exceeds that period will be responsible for his own sudden death." By the end of 1993 26 foreigners had been killed.
In November 1993 Sheik Mohamed Bouslimani "a popular figure who was prominent" in
Djafar was killed February 26, 1994.
Cherif Gousmi, aka Abu Abdallah Ahmed, became amir March 10, 1994. Under him, the GIA reached its "high water mark", and became the "undisputed principal Islamist force" in Algeria. In May, Islamist leaders
Abderrezak Redjam (allegedly representing the FIS),
Mohammed Said, the exiled
However, the very next day Said Mekhloufi announced his withdrawal from the GIA, claiming that the GIA had deviated from Islam and that this "Caliphate" was an effort by Mohammed Said to take over the GIA, and Haddam soon afterwards denied ever having joined it, asserting that this Caliphate was an invention of the security services. The GIA continued attacking its usual targets, notably assassinating artists, such as
Cherif Gousmi was eventually succeeded by
Antar Zouabri, was the longest serving "emir" (1996–2002) was nominated by a faction of the GIA "considered questionable by the others". The 26-year-old activist was a "close confidant" of Zitouni and continued his policy of "ever increasing violence and redoubled purges". Zouabri opened his reign as emir by issuing a manifesto entitled The Sharp Sword, presenting Algerian society as resistant to jihad and lamented that the majority of the people had "forsaken religion and renounced the battle against its enemies," but was careful to deny that the GIA had ever accused Algerian society itself of impiety (
Convinced of Zouabri's salafist orthodoxy, Egyptian veteran of the Afghan jihad
Although Zouabri was seldom heard of after this and the jihad exhausted, massacres "continued unabated" through 1998 led by independent amirs with added "ingredients of vendetta and local dispute" to the putative jihad against the government. Armed groups "that had formerly belonged to the GIA" continued to kill, some replacing jihad with simple banditry, others settling scores with the pro-government "patriots" or others, some enlisting themselves in the services of landowners and frightening illegal occupants off of property.
In 1999 the "Law on Civil Concord" granting amnesty to fighters was officially rejected by the GIA but accepted by many rank-and-file Islamist fighters; an estimated 85 percent surrendered their arms and returned to civilian life.[
The Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (
Zouabri was himself killed in a gun battle with security forces 9 February 2002. The GIA, torn by splits and desertions and denounced by all sides even in the Islamist movement, was slowly destroyed by army operations over the next few years; by the time of Antar Zouabri's death it was effectively incapacitated.[
The GIA and Violence
In Algeria, the desire to have a violent and armed version of Islamism wasn't the primary mode of action for the GIA. There was no idea to use violence as a notion of sacrifice or martyrdom, which is quite common in other Islamist groups. In this case, the GIA used violence as an instrument of change to have a social transformation within Algeria. The state, in the eyes of the GIA, was an enemy of Islam. There was a rhetoric that the state was the incarnation of taghout. In order to destroy it, they would use a strategy of organized rural and urban guerrillas. The society backed fighters would have the capabilities to overthrow the state and create a new regime based on Sharia law.
In order to destabilize the state, the GIA instigated terror throughout the country. Using acts of violence such as planned assassinations, vehicle bombings, kidnappings. They often attacked members of the Algerian army and the police force. As time passed the GIA did not limit their violence to only stately officials. They used violence as a means of social control on the civilian population as well. They would commit theatrical assassinations in front of large groups of people so they could spread fear and have people support their cause. Two notable assassinations by the GIA was the assassination of Abdelkader Alloula, a theater director in Algeria and Cheb Hasni the most popular Raï music singer.
In 1999, following the election of a new president,
A splinter group of the GIA that formed on the fringes of