Magharebia (Washington DC)

18 December 2012

Algeria: Nation Arrests AQIM 'Number Two'

Algiers — Algeria strikes another serious blow to al-Qaeda.

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) suffered another major blow in Algeria on Sunday (December 16th) when its number two boss and main spokesman was captured near Bouira.

The arrest of Salah Gasmi, alias Salah Abou Mohamed, further weakens the leadership of the terrorist group, which is coming under heavy pressure from security forces and is hiding to limit its losses.

The operation took place in the village of Cheurfa in Bouira province, 100 kilometres east of Algiers, according to Tout Sur l'Algerie. Acting on reliable intelligence reports indicating that Gasmi was in the village, security forces laid a trap for him outside a restaurant where he was due to meet his followers.

According to security officers, his capture is important because of his importance to al-Qaeda emir Abdelmalek Droukdel.

The Droukdel lieutenant was responsible for the terrorist group's propaganda and the co-ordination of the various small groups operating in Kabylie. A computer and communications specialist by profession, he is the suspected mastermind of the 2007 suicide bombings in Algiers.

This security operation follows another carried out November 18th on the border between the provinces of Tizi-Ouzou and Bejaia (east of Algiers) in which three terrorists were killed. They included the head of AQIM's military committee, who was also a member of its committee of dignitaries.

This dangerous terrorist, Makhfi Rabah (aka Cheikh Abdenacer), a former member of the Armed Islamist Group (GIA) had been actively sought since 1992.

Another recent operation on August 15th led to the arrest of the chairman of AQIM's judicial committee, Nacib Tayeb (aka Abderrahmane Abou Ishak Essoufi), and two of his henchmen at a Ghardaia checkpoint, reportedly as they were headed to a leadership meeting.

In October, Algerian forces killed Bekkai Boualem (aka Khaled El Mig, the head of external relations for al-Qaeda).

Aziz Hatem (aka Youssef Abou Youssef), the head of AQIM's El-Wenchir brigade, was also recently eliminated by Algerian troops.

These operations carried out by security forces are the fruit of intelligence efforts, stemming from confessions of captured terrorists, the infiltration of terror groups and citizens' tips.

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