Algeria and the Paradox of Democracy


I. The Military Coup and its Impact

In December 1991, the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS), an Algerian political party, had won national democratic elections, proving to be immensely popular. However, before the parliamentary seats could be taken after January 1992, the Algerian military violently overturned democracy. The parliamentary elections that would have brought the FIS to power were cancelled by the Algerian army. The army rounded up tens of thousands of Muslims who supported the winning party and threw them into concentration camps in the midst of the Sahara, to be tortured and abused.[2]

As noted by John Entelis, Professor of Political Science and Director of the Middle East Program at Fordham University in New York, regarding the elections, “The Arab world had never before experienced such a genuinely populist expression of democratic aspirationsé Yet when the army overturned the whole democratic experiment in January 1992, the United States willingly accepted the resultsé In short, a democratically elected Islamist government hostile to American hegemonic aspirations in the regioné was considered unacceptable in Washington.” This was primarily because the democratically elected government was unlikely to allow the United States to use Algeria as part of its attempts to consolidate its military-economic hegemony throughout the region. Professor Entelis acknowledges that, in contrast, “More important was the army government’s willingness to collaborate with American regional ambitions”, which included “collaborating with Israel in establishing a Pax Americana in the Middle East and North Africa.”

Following this violent coup, hundreds of civilians were being mysteriously and regularly massacred by an unknown terrorist group. The newly established military regime insisted that the terrorists were members of an organisation called the Armed Islamic Group (GIA). This group was alleged to consist of disenchanted members of the former FIS who were retaliating against the newly installed regime by murdering civilians. Thus, the massacres were blamed on the GIA, a supposedly Islamic terrorist organisation defending the interests of the scattered FIS. The seizing, killing and imprisoning of FIS members and supporters has therefore been perpetrated by the new regime on the pretext of eradicating Islamic terrorism. This has led to what appears to be a veritable civil war within the country between secular government forces and armed Islamic opposition groups. Government forces routinely arrest, detain and kill Algerian citizens who are alleged to be members or supporters of the “Islamic terrorist” armed opposition. The opposition in turn routinely undertakes horrendous massacres of civilians in accordance with its alleged methodology of utilising terror to achieve political objectives. As we shall see, however, the facts are far more complicated.

The result is that Algeria today constitutes yet another humanitarian crisis to which the West remains overtly indifferent. Tens of thousands of children have been affected by a decade of ongoing violence. Since the conflict within Algeria began, hundreds of babies, children and other vulnerable civilians have been killed, often as deliberate targets, as well as indiscriminately. Thousands of children have been seriously traumatised as a result of witnessing members of their family be shot, cut to pieces, or burned alive, as well as witnessing bomb explosions and brutal military operations by security forces and armed groups.[5]

II. Indifference and Complicity of the Algerian Army

It is crucial to note that AI has also openly admitted that the claims of the Algerian government that these massacres are being instigated by ‘Islamic terrorists’ are considerably problematic, given that most of them occurred beside government military barracks and security forces, and went on – often for hours – without any intervention. The conundrum is compounded by the sinister fact that “the Algerian authorities have systematically failed to carry out investigations and to bring those responsible to justice.”[7] Thus, despite the huge humanitarian catastrophe in Algeria, Western governments have studiously ignored the escalating crisis, to the extent that they refuse to even place Algeria under viable international pressure. Likewise, the Western mass media, complying with highly questionable Western government policies, also largely ignore the crisis.

Thus, the Algerian crisis continues. In 1998 AI reported that thousands of civilians were killed; some extrajudicially executed by security forces and militias armed by the state; others killed by armed groups defining themselves as ‘Islamic’: “Thousands of people, including possible prisoners of conscience, were detained; many were released without charge and hundreds were charged under the ‘anti-terrorist’ law. Hundreds of people arrested in previous years were sentenced to prison terms after unfair trials. Hundreds of people remained detained without trial. Torture and ill-treatment by security forces remained widespread, especially during secret detention but also in prisons. Torture, including rape, by armed groups also continued. Dozens of people ‘disappeared’ after arrest by security forces. Thousands of people who ‘disappeared’ in previous years remained unaccounted for. Scores of people were abducted by armed groups. Hundreds of people were sentenced to death, the vast majority in absentia. Hundreds of others remained under sentence of death.”

According to the AI annual report of 1998, “most of the massacres took place near the capital, Algiers, and in the Bilder and Medea regions, in the most heavily militarised part of the country. Often, massacres were committed in villages situated close to army barracks and security forces posts, and in some cases survivors reported that army security forces were stationed nearby.” The report also indicates that “the killings often lasted several hours, but the army and security forces failed to intervene to stop the massacres, and allowed the attackers to leave undisturbed.” Moreover, despite denials by Algerian government officials of this combination of Algerian military complicity and indifference, witness accounts abound to contradict such denials, and instead serve to prove the military’s complicity. Further revealing is the flagrant, obviously deliberate and systematic refusal of the Algerian authorities to protect civilians and investigate the massacres. According to AI, “more and more people are dying in Algeria than anywhere else in the Middle East. Time and time again, no one is brought before a court of law. There is just a statement released to the press, that the killer of killers has been killed.”[9] Reporting in December 2000, Amnesty confirmed that “Although the international community has largely tended to ignore the continuing high level of violence in Algeria, an average of between 200 and 300 people have been killed every month throughout this year.” In one single episode on the night of 18-19 December, “a group of men armed with knives and axes entered a coastal village near Ténés, west of Algiers, and hacked to death 22 men, women and infant children before decapitating their bodies. Two nights previously at least 16 schoolchildren, aged between 15 and 18, and their supervisor were shot dead in the dormitory of their boarding school in the town of Medea, 80 kms south of the capital. On both these occasions the perpetrators managed to escape without being apprehended. The same is true for virtually all other such incidents.”[11]

Crucially, the vast majority of the victims of these massacres have not been non-Muslims, secularists or supporters of the new Algerian regime, as one would expect if the perpetrators were actually former members of the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS). The victims have almost entirely been poor villagers and shantytown dwellers – the very Muslim people who voted overwhelmingly for the FIS. High-ranking officials or members of the pro-Algerian regime elite have rarely been victims. For instance, no atrocities have been committed in the area of Club Des Pines, which was recently turned into a high-class city on the outskirts of the capital. Government officials, army chiefs and pro-government party leaders reside there. Why would the FIS massacre its own supporters, its own popular base, rather than its real enemy in the new Algerian elite? There have also been accounts reported on the authority of physicians working in hospitals where the dead and wounded are received, stating that “the dead from those who commit these horrible crimes were not circumcised.” Yet circumcision is standard for all Muslim males in Algeria. This implies that the perpetrators were not Muslim – and therefore not Islamist terrorists. The FIS itself, along with other opposition parties, accuses the Algerian government’s security forces of masterminding the massacres, especially in light of the government’s refusal to establish an independent investigation into the atrocities, which the FIS has been demanding. These points expose the inconsistency in the notion that the GIA is a radical Islamic offshoot of the FIS.[13]

Meanwhile, access to Algeria throughout 1998 was refused for the UN Special Rapporteurs on torture and on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. Access was also refused for Amnesty International and other international human rights organisations. Calls by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the European Union, the G8 and others for the Special Rapporteurs to be allowed to visit the country to investigate human rights issues were rejected by the Algerian government, including an attempt by the UN Secretary-General to discuss the situation.[15] Later, by January 1999, Algeria’s democratically elected President was, “in a chilling deja vu,” forced to relinquish his office “by the same generals who had forced the resignation of his predecessor in 1992”.[17]

The French prime minister Lionel Jospin has attempted to explain away the clear indifference of the Western powers to the Algerian crisis, claiming that: “We don’t really know how to explain what is happening… it is not like Pinochet’s Chile where democrats were fighting a dictatorial power.” He added: “There is a fanatic and violent opposition fighting a power which itself in a certain way uses violence and the force of the State. So we are obliged to be rather prudent.” Unfortunately for him and the Algerian junta’s other friends in the US, EU and their Arab client-regimes, the evidence contradicts his effective political appeasement of the junta’s policies.[19] Dr. Hamoue Amirouche, a former fellow of the Institut National d’Etudes de Strategie Globale (Algiers), noted at the beginning of 1998 that “the military regime” thus supported by the West, “is perpetuating itself by fabricating and nourishing a mysterious monster to fight, but it is demonstrating daily its failure to perform its most elementary duty: providing security for the population. In October 1997, troubling reports suggested that a faction of the army, dubbed the ‘land mafia’, might actually be responsible for some of last summer’s massacres, whiché continued even after the Islamic Salvation Army, the armed wing of the FIS, called for a truce, in effect as of October 1, 1997.”[21]

The appalling record thus confirms the complicity of the Algerian authorities and the Western governments supporting them. The Independent reported in 1997 that “GIA men – or those claiming to be its members – have attacked Algerian villages for more than a year, cutting the throats of women and children, burning babies alive in ovens, disembowelling pregnant women and slaughtering old men with axes. They have even employed a mobile guillotine on the back of a truck to execute their enemies. But evidence that the massacred villagers were themselves Islamists, and increasing proof that the Algerian security forces remained – at best – incapable of coming to their rescue, has cast grave doubt on the government’s role in Algeria’s dirty war.”[23]

The IHRC bulletin goes on to cite an Agence France Press (AFP) report which noted: “Bomb attacks that killed eight people in Paris in 1995 were carried out by the Algerian secret service, according to a press report on Sunday… The Observer quoted an Algerian asylum-seeker in Britain – who claimed he was a former agent in Algeria’s secret service – as saying the Paris bombs were part of a black propaganda war aimed at galvanising French public opinion against Islamic militants… The man, named only as Yussuf, told the paper that the Armed Islamic Group (GIA) – on whom both the Paris bombs and frequent massacres in Algeria have been blamed – was ‘a pure product of (the Algerian) secret service.’… Yussuf said Algerian intelligence agents routinely bribed European police, journalists and members of parliament… And he claimed to have personally delivered a suitcase containing $90,000 to a former French member of parliament ‘with strong links to the French intelligence services.’… Yussuf added that the killings of many foreigners in Algeria were organised by the secret police and not by Islamic extremists.”[25] According to a former Algerian diplomat Mohammad Larbi Zitout: “The GIA has been infiltrated and manipulated by the government. The GIA has been completely turned by the government.” Zitout also testified that the regime is behind the massacres.[27]

The evidence of this twin Algerian and European governmental complicity in Algeria’s humanitarian crisis only mounts. Robert Fisk, for instance, recorded the testimony of ‘Dalilah’, an Algerian policewoman who was witness to the torture and executions carried out by the Algerian intelligence services: “They tortured people – I saw this happening,” she stated. “I saw innocent people tortured like wild animals… They executed people… people who had done nothing. They had been denounced by people who didn’t get along with them. People just said ‘He’s a terrorist’ and the man would be executed…. They tied young people to a ladder with rope. They were always shirtless, sometimes naked. They put a rag over their face. Then they forced salty water into them. There was a tap with a pipe that they stuck in the prisoner’s throat and they ran the water until the prisoners’ bellies had swelled right up… Sometimes while this happened, the torturers would put broomsticks up their anuses. Some of the prisoners had beards, some didn’t. They were all poor… Any cop would hit the prisoners with the butt of his Kalash (rifle). Some of the prisoners went completely mad from being tortured. Everyone who was brought to the Cavignac was tortured – around 70 per cent of the cops there saw all this. They participated. Although the torture was the job of the judiciary police, the others joined in. The prisoners would be 20 to 30 to a cell and they would be brought one by one to the ladder, kicked in the ribs all the time. It was inhuman. In the cells, the prisoners got a piece of bread every two days. There was no medicine. Every prisoner, according to the law, has the right to a doctor. But they would be returned to their cells covered in blood.”

Fisk comments: “For more than four years released prisoners have told us of water torture and beatings, of suffocation with rags, of how their nails were ripped out by interrogators, of how women were gang-raped by policemen, of secret executions in police stations.” He gives several typical examples: “A police officer who was in charge of the Algiers’ city police armoury has described to The Independent how his colleagues killed prisoners in cold blood, how police torturers suffocated prisoners with acid-soaked rags after tearing out their nails and raping them with bottles. A 30-year old Algiers policewoman has told of how she watched prisoners – at the rate of 12 a day – tied half-naked to ladders in the Cavignac police station in Algiers while, screaming and pleading for mercy, salt water was pumped into their stomachs until they agreed, blindfolded, to sign confessions. The same policewoman admitted to signing false death certificates to prove that dead prisoners had been ‘found’ decomposing in the forests south of Algiers. A 23-year old army conscript spoke of watching officers torture suspected ‘Islamist’ prisoners by boring holes in their legs – and in one case, stomach – with electric drills in a dungeon called the ‘killing room’. And he claimed that he found a false beard amid the clothing of soldiers who had returned from a raid on a village where 28 civilians were later found beheaded; the soldier suspects that his comrades had dressed up as Muslim rebels to carry out the atrocity.”[29] The former Algerian agent also testified in 1998 that “It’s the army which is responsible for the massacres; it’s the army which executes the massacres; not the regular soldiers, but a special unit under the orders of the generals. It should be remembered the lands are being privatized, and land is very important. One has first to chase people from their land so that land can be acquired cheaply. And then there must be a certain dose of terror in order to govern the Algerian people and remain in power. A Chinese saying tells that a picture is worth a thousand words. I could not stand the image of a young girl having her throat slit. I could not bear seeing what happened and not tell it. I have children, imagine what this girl had to suffer, the last 10 seconds of her life must have been horrible. I think it’s our duty to speak up about this. I speak today in the hope that others would do the same, so that things change, and so that these killings cease.”[31]

Indeed, according to the Sunday Times, “One of the worst atrocities occurred in the first three weeks of 1998, when more than 1,000 villagers were massacred, many within 500 yards of an army base that did not deploy a single soldier, despite the fact that the gunfire and screams would have been clearly audible. Villagers said that some of the attackers wore army uniforms.”[33]

Further authoritative testimony comes from former Algerian Prime Minister (1984-1988), Dr. Abdel Hameed Al Ibrahimi, a member of the National Liberation Front responsible for consolidating military rule and now Director of a London-based centre for the study of North African affairs. In an interview with Yasser Za’atreh of the London monthly Palestine Times, the former Algerian PM has provided crucial confirmation of the reality of the current Algerian situation: “The crisis in Algeria which was created by the military coup in January 1992 still exists and is becoming worse and more complicated… because the present regime is still insisting on using force and suppression to remain in power and to preserve the illegal benefits it gained at the expense of the general interests of the Algerian people. [T]he regime does not want a true political solution. Instead, it insists on a military solution despite the deterioration of security and economic and social conditions in the country… As for the Islamic armed groups, they are penetrated by the military intelligence service. It is known that most of the mass killings and bombings are made by the government itself whether through special forces or through the local militias (about 200,000 armed men), but the government accuses the Islamists of the violence. All know that the victims of the mass killings are Islamists or ordinary citizens well-known for their support of the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS). Bombings always occur in quarters known to be affiliated with the FIS.” é     >   To wreak vengeance on members and supporters of the FIS until they give up their political ambitions;

é     >   To terrify the Algerian people who suffer from the deterioration of the security and socio-economic conditions in the country in order to force them to accept the political and dictatorial policy of the present regime;

é     >   To deform, locally and abroad, the picture of the FIS and the Islamic project in general;

é     >   To mislead international public opinion so that the regime could obtain additional financial, political, and diplomatic support from France and other Western countries. The regime wants to show itself as the defender of the West against fundamentalism in Algeria and as an acclaimed partner in defending the French and Western interests in the region.[36] An outraged  group of prominent French and North African intellectuals denounced the West’s support for the Algerian regime as ” complicity in crimes against humanity”, and commented in the French daily Le Monde: “For too long the French government has supported Algerian policy which, under cover of a fight against terrorism, aims at nothing less than the eradication, both political and physical, of any opposition whatsoever.”[38]

Indeed, Western support for the Algerian regime is clearly documented. For example, British journalist Robert Fisk reported as early as 1994 that “France has been giving covert military support to the Algerian regime for months.” “Helicopters, night sight technology for aerial surveillance of guerrilla hide outs and other equipment” were included in this support, having “been sent to the Algerian army, some aboard French military flights which reportedly make regular flights into Algiers airport… According to well placed Algerian sources, the son of a French government minister is involved. He is said to run a private security company outside Paris which has legally sold millions of francs worth of equipment to the Algerian security police.” Additionally Fisk reported that “French spy agencies monitor all Algerian radio traffic round the clock, much of it from a ship off the coast of France’s former African colony,” listening “day and night to the reports of Algerian commanders in the Lakhdaria mountains and the ‘Bled’, the Algerian outback”. This work is “supplemented by radio signals picked up aboard French air force planes flying along the Algerian coast, and by intelligence officers inside the heavily guarded French embassy in Algiers.” Furthermore, “France has acknowledged selling nine Ecureuil helicopters to the Algerian government” claiming “that the machines were sent to Algeria for ‘civil’ purposes – thereby avoiding statutory investigation by the French interministerial commission for the inspection of military exports. Military sources say helicopters have only to be equipped with rockets and night sight equipment, also provided by France, to become front line equipment in the anti guerrilla struggle.”[40] Other Western powers have followed through with similar policies, including Britain, which in the year 2000 sold through the government of Qatar, “almost é5m in military equipment to the Algerian army, despite a record of atrocities committed by its soldiers that contravenes the ethical foreign policy espoused by Robin Cook, the foreign secretary,” as the Sunday Times reported. “The order, worth é4.6m, is destined to improve the capabilities of the Algerian army.”[42]

Thus, rather than exerting significant pressures on the Algerian government to put an end to the humanitarian catastrophe, the West has been doing the very opposite. Western powers without objection from their allies are supplying the tyrannical regime with military aid, thereby directly supporting its mass killing and repression of its own citizens under the false justification of “eradicating” Islamic terrorists. As ABC News correspondent John K. Cooley reports, those “known as advocates of ‘eradication’ of the Islamists through ruthless and total repression, have generally enjoyed support from the US, France and other foreign countries with heavy investment in Algeria.”[44] For example, rather than demanding an end to the killings, the European Union decided to release ECU 60 million (some $65 million) to the Algerian generals within the MEDA programme. The agreement signed between the regime and the European Union on 2 December 1996 concerns a global loan package worth ECU 125 million, conditional upon the conformity to the traditional structural reforms in Algeria, as supervised by the IMF and World Bank, thus ripping the country open to the privatisation which invites the desired Western investment.[46]

Most importantly in this regard, we should consider the enormous entrenchment of Western – particularly French – multinational corporations in Algerian gas and oil. These interests would have been jeopardised by a popular Islamic government that mobilised such domestic resources for independent egalitarian gains: Algeria has the fifth largest reserves of natural gas in the world, and is the second largest gas exporter, with 130 trillion proven natural gas reserves; it ranks fourteenth for oil reserves, with official estimates at 9.2 billion barrels. Approximately 90 per cent of Algeria’s crude oil exports go to Western Europe, including Italy, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Spain and Britain. Algeria’s major trading partners are Italy, France, the United States, Germany and Spain. The United States Energy Information Administration (USEIA) states clearly that: “Algeria is important to world energy reserve markets because it is a significant oil and gas producer and exporter. Algeria also is a member of the OPEC and an important energy source for Europe.”[48]

Confirming the French policies that have similar counterparts being undertaken by other Western allies, Moroccan analyst Abdelilah Balkaziz reports that “French policy, which has always striven to present itself as a champion of democracy and human rights, is unabashedly supporting military regimes that have broken all records in their violation of human rights, to the point of sweeping away the legitimate legislative authority in Algeria! Curiouser still is the fact that French politicians, both rightists and socialists, [are] backing, in the process, regimes hatched in military barracks.” However, France is joined by the US in the Western attempt to dominate the country. Balkaziz goes on to conclude that: “While France is seeking a Francophone Arab Maghreb that makes it feel the extension of its cultural and linguistic interests, the United States is seeking an Arab Maghreb market for its goods and an Arab Maghreb military foothold for its Mediterranean strategy against an emerging united Europe. So it doesn’t care who rules the Arab Maghreb – the bearded elites or the allied elites – as long as its interests are protected.”[50]

The independent Muslim media has thus summarised the various interests of the Western powers in Algeria, which appear to have motivated their support of the regime, regardless of the decimating effects of this on the Algerian masses: “One is the uninterrupted flow of oil and gas at throw-away prices. Both France and the US are involved in exploration there. This also extends to other oil producing countries in the region – Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates et al. The other is the west’s pathological hatred of Islam. A FIS victory would have brought committed Muslims to power in a country which lies only a stone’s throw away from Europe. This was unacceptable to the west. The FIS promised such ‘dangerous’ policies as a corruption-free government, jobs for the millions of unemployed and a society based on morality. The west would rather have a corrupt, brutal junta in power than a clean, efficient FIS which is not subservient to the west. When it comes to its interests, the west is quite prepared to abandon its self-proclaimed ‘principles’. It clamours for democracy in Burma, castigating the junta for not respecting the wishes of the people, but backs the junta in Algeria.”[52]

The exploitation of Algerian resources by the United States has continued to intensify. On 18 April 2000, US Under Secretary of State for Economic, Business and Agricultural Affairs Alan P. Larson hosted a successful ministerial business symposium for the US-North Africa Economic Partnership. The Algerian Finance Minister Abdelatif Benachenhou, and Central Bank Governor Abdellatif Keramane, were among the leaders of North African countries “who spoke to representatives of more than 90 US companies about opportunities for investment in North Africa and economic developments there.” Other US government participants included Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Stuart E. Eizenstat, Assistant Secretary of Commerce Pat Mulloy, and Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) Vice President Joan Logue-Kender, and representatives of the Office of the US Trade Representative, the US Agency for International Development and the Trade and Development Agency. Accordingly, yhe US-North Africa Economic Partnership was launched by the US in 1998 with the aim of “encouraging private sector-led growth and regional economic integration in the Maghreb”, with the Algerian regime playing a crucial role in the Partnership. The Partnership has “aimed at promoting economic reform and liberalization”, primarily to provide Maghreb governments including Algeria “with a platform from which to engage with potential US investors.” Technical assistance and training programmes are designed to extend Western economic hegemony in the region by improving “their business and investment climates.” As a result of this intense fostering of foreign investment in the region, constituting a veritable Western corporate invasion, “US government trade and investment agencies have stepped up their activities in the region.” é     >     The per capita income decreased from $2,500 in 1990 to $1,200 in 1995 (a reduction of 52 per cent in six years).

é     >     The agricultural production decreased by 25 per cent although the population increased by more than 4 million in the last six years. This led to the increase of food imports which now form 90 per cent of the total national food consumption amounting up to $3 billion a year.

é     >     The country’s industries are operating (except for petroleum and gas) at only 20 per cent of their actual capacity which means that 80 per cent of the Algerian industries, except for the petroleum industries, are now out of work.

é     >     Investment has been reduced to a level lower than it was before Independence. Food and industrial consumable imports form 49 per cent of total imports. The military expenditure increased by 45 per cent in 1994 and by 144 per cent in 1995. All of that was at the expense of the investment in production sectors.

é     >     The unemployment rate rose to more than 30 per cent in 1996. 83 per cent of the now 2.5 million unemployed Algerians are youth between 16 and 29 years of age. The number of unemployed citizens is expected to increase to 3 million after completing privatization of public establishments during this year because more than 400,000 workers will lose their jobs to privatization.

é     >     For the first time since Independence, the general level of prices increased by 40 per cent in 1994 while the prices of the foodstuffs increased by 80 per cent which increased poverty among people and consumers.

é     >     The foreign debts increased from $26 billion in 1992 to $35 billion in 1997 reaching a total of $40 billion if we add the military debts. The foreign debt is a heavy and serious burden on Algeria which, if the present political situation continues, will lead to the deterioration of the economic crisis in the future.

“In brief,” concludes Al Ibrahimi, “the Algerian people are now suffering from suppression and poverty. They are languishing in a valley of blood and tears.” The Western intelligence agencies, particularly those of France and the United States, “who control the military institution in Algeria are responsible for this corrupt situation and for this destructive policy since 1992.”[55] The result has been a considerable dis-empowerment of the Algerian masses. The Western powers have thus confirmed the irrelevance of human rights in the formulation of policy, as opposed to the pre-eminence of what effectively amounts to ruthless economic imperialism. It is therefore clear that unless the West changes its current stance and imposes considerable pressure on its Algerian clients to transform their violent policies, the crisis in Algeria is unlikely to end shortly.


[2] Addi, Lahouari, ‘Algeria’s Tragic Contradictions’, Journal of Democracy, 7.3, 1996, 94-107.

[4] AI news release, ‘Algeria: Children Caught in the Conflict’, Amnesty International, London, 27 October 1997.

[6] AI news release, ‘Algeria: Civilian Population Caught in a Spiral of Violence’, Amnesty International, London, November 1997.

[8] AI, Amnesty International Report 1998, Amnesty International, London, 1998; Bouzid, Ahmed, ‘The Algerian Crisis: No End in Sight’, Z Magazine, January 1999.

[10] AI press release, ‘Algeria: Amnesty International Condemns Massacres of Civilians’, Amnesty International, London, 21 December 2000

[12] Bouzid, Ahmed, ‘The Algerian Crisis: No End in Sight’, op. cit.; Bouzid cites evidence demonstrating how the Algerian authorities use the excuse of hunting down terrorists to arrest and despose of whoever they wish (i.e. opponents of the regime) by fabricating evidence and employing torture to force confessions; Hizb ut-Tahrir, ‘The massacres in Algeria are designed to slaughter Islam as an ideology and a system’, Al-Khilafah Magazine, Al-Khilafah Publications, London, 4 September 1997.

[14] AI, Amnesty International Report 1998, Amnesty International, London, 1998.

[16] Bouzid, Ahmed, ‘The Algerian Crisis: No End in Sight’, op. cit.

[18] Cited in Bouzid, Ahmed, ‘The Algerian Crisis: No End in Sight’, op. cit. See this paper for some further discussion of the Algerian crisis, the complicity of the Algerian government in the massacres, and the complacency of the international community with regard to the humanitarian catastrophe; also see ‘Internationalization moves mask support for Algerian junta’, Crescent International, 16-31 October 1997. Crescent is an international Muslim newsmagazine based in London.

[20] Amirouche, Hamou, ‘Algeria’s Islamist Revolution: The People Versus Democracy?’, Middle East Policy, January 1998, Vol. V, No. 4.

[22] Independent, 30 October 1997.

[24] AFP, 8 November 1997.

[26] cited in ibid.; also see Impact International, Vol. 28, No. 2 February 1998.

[28] Independent, 30 October 1997.

[30] Television Swiss Romande (TSR), Switzerland, January 1998.

[32] Sunday Times, 16 July 2000

[34] Palestine Times, No. 72, June 1997

[36] Simon, Daniel Ben, ‘Arabs Slaughter Arabs in Algeria’, Ha’aretz, 20 April 2001. Also see Hadjarab, Mustapha, ‘Former Officer Testifies To Army Atrocities’, Algeria Interface, 9 February 2001. While Souadia acknowledges the army’s role in the massacres, he nevertheless continues to adhere to the opinion that many massacres have also been carried out by Islamic guerrillas. This opinion, however, conflicts with the documentation supplied above which illustrates that the supposedly ‘Islamic’ guerrillas, such as the GIA for instance, are infiltrated and controlled by the Algerian military. The testimony of other defectors from the regime shows that the GIA is ultimately a creation of the very same Algerian regime’s intelligence and military. Indeed, Souadia’s own testimony supports this, showing that it was routine army policy to stage massacres of civilians to falsely incriminate Islamic opposition. Souadia, for instance, admits accompanying commandos from the army’s ‘anti-terrorist’ squad to Lakhdaria, an alleged rebel stronghold 50 miles from Algiers. The squad disguised themselves as bearded fundamentalists. “All the suspects of course ended up being killed. We arrested people, we tortured them, we killed them and then we burned their bodies.” In that region alone, “I must have seen at least 100 people liquidated”. (Guardian, 14 February 2001). The evidence therefore supports the conclusion that the massacres as such are largely planned and carried out by the Algerian intelligence and military. See Souadia, Habib, The Dirty War: The testimony of a former officer of the special forces of the Algerian army, 1992-2000, La Decouverte, Paris, 2001.

[38] Cited in Guardian, 14 February 2001.

[40] Ibid.

[42] Entelis, John, Democracy Denied: America’s Authoritarian Approach Towards the Maghreb é Causes and Consequences, op. cit.

[44] Hanlon, Joseph, ‘Dictators and debt’, Jubilee 2000 Coalition, November 1998.

[46] El Watan, 8 January 1992.

[48] cited in Madani, Blanca, ‘Hugh Roberts on Algeria: summary of Interview by Middle East Report’, Articles and Reports, World Algerian Action Coalition, Spring 1998,

[50] Cited in The Sun Magazine, June 2000.

[52] Cooley, John K., Unholy Wars: Afghanistan, America and International Terrorism, op. cit. p. 205-6.

[54] Palestine Times, No. 72, June 1997

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