Foreign Policy Blogs

Bombings Hit Algeria

At least 60 people have been killed as a result of two bombings in Algiers today- one near a government bulding and the other near United Nations offices.    The government is sure that the GSPC is responsible (The GSPC, a splinter of the GIA group which waged the civil war in the 1990s,  was known as the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, and now call themselves al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb).   However, recently, there has been chatter of another geographically-named Islamist group in Algeria,  the Organization of al-Qaeda in the Land of the Berbers.   The GSPC has been suffering defections and low morale, and this could be an operation to staunch a decline, or it could be the first blow of an upstart group.  These bombings fit the goals of the GSPC, which is to topple the secular Algerian government and attack Western targets, but these goals are not exclusive to them.  And  while it seems unlikely that a new group could pull off such a devastating attack, it is important to remember that this is battle-hardened Algeria, where even new-comers have long experience with war.   Paying attention to who is ultimately resposible for this attack will help illuminate whether Algeria is dealing with a single, focused group or a number of splintered factions, eager to prove their mettle. 



Brian O'Neill

Brian O'Neill is a freelance writer currently based out of Chicago. He has lived in Egypt and in Yemen, and worked as a writer and editor for the Yemen Observer publishing company. He currently is an analyst with the Jamestown Foundation.