Appendix E – Statement of Reasons – Al-Qa’ida in the lands of the Islamic
known as: Al-Qa’ida
in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb (AQLIM); Le Groupe Salafiste Pour La
Predication et le Combat; Salafist Group for Call and Combat; Salafist Group
for Preaching and Combat (GSPC); Tanzim al-Qa’ida fi bilad al-Maghreb
following information is based on publicly available details about al-Qa’ida in
the Islamic Maghreb. To the Australian Government’s knowledge, these details
are accurate and reliable and have been corroborated by classified information.
for listing a terrorist organisation
102 of the Criminal Code provides that for an organisation to be listed
as a terrorist organisation, the Attorney-General must be satisfied on
reasonable grounds that the organisation:
or indirectly engaged in, preparing, planning, assisting in or fostering the
doing of a terrorist act (whether or not a terrorist act has occurred or will
doing of a terrorist act (whether or not a terrorist act has occurred or will
Details of al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb
known as the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), al-Qa’ida in the
Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) is a Sunni Islamic extremist group with its headquarters
in northern Algeria. The group operates mainly in Algeria and the Sahel region
of northern Mali. From its bases in northern Mali, AQIM also conducts regular
attacks in Mauritania with some forays into Niger. AQIM does not appear to have
established a strong foothold in the Maghreb countries of Morocco, Tunisia or
Libya at this stage but aspires to expand its influence throughout North Africa
and the Sahel/Sahara region and to conduct attacks in Europe.
GSPC, the group’s main goal was to overthrow the Algerian Government and
replace it with an Islamic government to rule Algeria under Sharia law. This
remains one of AQIM’s key aims. However, following the GSPC’s merger with
al-Qa’ida in late 2006 and name change to AQIM in early 2007, the group
increasingly has adhered to al-Qa’ida’s extremist ideology and has declared war
against foreigners and foreign interests.
called for the freeing of the Maghreb countries of North Africa from Spanish
and French influences and for the regaining of the lost Islamic regions of
southern Spain, known as al-Andalus. AQIM also has stated its support for the
Palestinians and called on Muslims across North Africa to target Jewish and
Christian interests. Since 2000, Algerians believed to be GSPC/AQIM members
have been arrested in France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, the UK and
Pakistan. Security forces also have dismantled AQIM support cells in several
European countries. While an AQIM attack in Europe is possible; the threat
appears to have receded in the past few years.
counter-terrorism campaigns by Algerian security forces have put AQIM on the
defensive in northern Algeria. Algerian authorities reportedly neutralised
hundreds of AQIM militants in 2009 and believe that the group’s national emir,
Abdelmalek Droukdal, is losing control of the organisation. As a result of
these pressures, the group’s focus appears to be moving southwards into the
Sahel region, boosting the relevance of the group’s Mali-based battalions for
training and recruitment and fundraising operations. These battalions are
currently able to operate in relative safety in the vast, ungoverned north of
the country and AQIM is launching an increasing number of attacks in Mali and
Mauritania, including against Westerners, with some forays into Niger. As a
result, international and regional calls for the Malian Government to drive
AQIM out of Mali are becoming louder.
was formed in 1998 as a splinter group of the Algerian Armed Islamic Group
(GIA) to protest against the GIA’s indiscriminate killing of civilians. The
GSPC quickly became Algeria’s largest and most dangerous terrorist group and by
2000, the external networks of the GIA across Europe and North Africa had been
absorbed by the GSPC.
2004, the GSPC released statements claiming that its jihad in Algeria was part
of the international jihad led by Usama bin Laden and declaring war on all
foreigners and foreign interests in Algeria. The culmination of this
increasingly pro-al-Qa’ida stance was the GSPC’s official merger with al-Qa’ida
and its subsequent name change.
- On 11
September 2006, al-Qa’ida announced a merger between the GSPC and al-Qa’ida.
- On 26 January
2007, the GSPC announced it had changed its name to Al‑Qa’ida in the
Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
the 2006 merger, AQIM media statements took an increasingly anti‑Western
position and the group conducted its first attacks specifically targeting
2004, the group has been led by Abdelmalek Droukdal (aka Abu Musab Abdel
Wadoud). Other central figures include the leaders of two semi-autonomous and
increasingly active AQIM battalions based in Northern Mali - Abdal Hamid Abu
Zayd aka Abid Hamadou (Tariq Ibn Zyad Battalion) and Mokhtar Belmokhtar (Al
Moulathamine Battalion). The group’s 2006 merger with al-Qa’ida has proved to
be largely ideological and AQIM appears to operate autonomously with limited
contact and direction from its parent organisation.
membership currently is estimated at between 500 and 800 members, about a third
of whom operate in the Sahel regions of northern Mali and Mauritania. AQIM
members are recruited from the Maghreb countries (Algeria, Libya, Mauritania,
Morocco and Tunisia), the Sahel region (extending across northern Mali,
southern Mauritania, northern Senegal, southern and central Niger central Chad,
central Sudan and Eritrea) and from other West African countries.
substantial losses in its northern Algerian strongholds in the past two years,
AQIM has stepped up its efforts to recruit new members. The group released a
video entitled ‘Join the Caravan’ on 1 January 2010, maintains web-based
propaganda and issues on-line updates of its activities under the title ‘Series
of the Swords’ Shadows’, disseminated by the Al-Fajr Media Centre website. In
October 2009, the website announced that AQIM had formed a new media outlet
called ‘Al Andalus Media Productions’, in reference to an area of Spain
regarded by AQIM as occupied Islamic territory.
itself primarily through criminal activities, including the kidnapping of
Westerners for ransom payments. Kidnapping operations in the Sahel/Sahara
region of North Africa have been a key source of funding in the past two years
and have netted the group millions of Euros in ransoms since February 2008.
Other funding sources include protection rackets, people and arms trafficking,
money laundering and muggings and increasingly, the facilitation of drug
trafficking from South America into Europe.
Terrorist activity of al-Qa’ida in the Islamic
or indirectly engaged in the doing of terrorist acts
conducts attacks against Western interests in northern Algeria and increasingly
in Mali, Mauritania and Niger. Its methods include suicide bomb attacks,
remotely detonated roadside bombings, small arms attacks, kidnappings for
ransoms and assassinations.
- AQIM’s most
significant attack on Western interests in Algeria was the 11 December
2007 suicide bombing attack on the UN Office in Algiers which killed 17 people.
- AQIM’s most
significant attack on Western interests in Mali was the assassination of a
British tourist in northern Mali on 31 May 2009 following the UK Government’s
failure to meet AQIM’s political demands.
Mauritania, AQIM was behind the kidnap of four Westerners in November and
December 2009, the killing of a US citizen in the capital Nouakchott on 23 June
2009 and a suicide attack on the French Embassy in Nouakchott on 8 August
- In Niger,
AQIM associates kidnapped two Canadian diplomats in December 2008 and held them
in northern Mali until April 2009 when they were freed following the release of
four AQIM prisoners held in Mali. Four European tourists were also taken
hostage in Niger in January 2009 and held in northern Mali. Three were released
after ransom payment while the fourth was killed.
- A further
seven Westerners were kidnapped in four separate incidents in Mauritania, Mali
and Niger between November 2009 and April 2010.
- As of May
2010, AQIM was holding three Western nationals hostage in northern Mali.
addition to targeting Western interests, AQIM routinely attacks Algerian
military, police and government interests. Common tactics include ambushes,
attacks at false roadblocks, raids on military, police and government convoys,
armed assaults and vehicle-born suicide bombings.
also be reliably attributed to, or has claimed responsibility for numerous
- 10 December
2006 – AQIM claimed responsibility for a roadside bomb attack on a bus carrying
Western oil workers near Algiers. One Algerian died and nine others were
injured in the attack, including four Britons, one American, one Canadian and
- 3 March 2007-
AQIM claimed responsibility for a roadside bomb attack on a bus carrying
Russian gas workers, south-west of Algiers. Three Algerians and one Russian
died in the attack.
- 29 August
2007 – AQIM placed a homemade bomb between two railway tracks, derailing a
freight train near Algiers and injuring three people
- 6 September
2007 – an AQIM suicide bomber blew himself up shortly before a scheduled visit
by the Algerian President in the town of Batna, killing 11 people
- 13 September
2007 – authorities defused a bomb placed by AQIM in a market in the city of
Chemora (440km southeast of Algiers). The bomb was intended to explode in the
midst of the crowd on the first day of Ramadan 2007.
- 14 September
2007 - Three people were killed and five wounded when a homemade bomb exploded
outside a police residence east of Algiers. AQIM later claimed responsibility
for the attack.
- 24 September
2007 - three municipal guards were the target of a lethal ambush perpetrated by
an armed group of AQIM militants in Stah, 360km east of Algiers.
- 25 September
2007 – AQIM militants killed two police officers in a roadside bomb attack on a
police patrol in Les Issers.
- 27 September
2007 - AQIM was responsible for the deaths of two soldiers in a bomb attack in
Sidi Ali Bounab, in the Bourmedes Province, 135km east of Algiers.
- 9 October
2007 – three Algerian military personnel died when two roadside bombs place by
AQIM targeted an army convoy in Boumerdes.
- 8 November
2007 – AQIM claimed responsibility for an attack on an aircraft, possibly an
Algerian Air Force cargo or transport jet, which was the target of an RPG
attack at Djanet airport in the south of Algeria.
- 11 December
2007 - two car bombs exploded in Algiers, killing at least 62 people. The
attacks targeted the Constitutional Court building and a UN office. AQIM later
claimed responsibility for the attacks.
- 3 January
2008 – an AQIM militant carried out a suicide truck bomb attack in Naciria,
70km east of Algiers, killing four people and injuring 20.
- 1 February
2008 – AQIM associates launched a firearm and grenade attack on the Israeli
Embassy in Nouakchott, Mauritania.
in the past two years include:
- 29 January
2008 – a lorry laden with 635 kg of explosives and driven by an AQIM supporter
was detonated outside a police barracks in the town of Thenia, east of Algiers,
killing four people and injuring 23 others.
- 10 March 2008
– AQIM issued a statement claiming responsibility for the abduction of two
Austrian tourists in Tunisia.
- 6 August 2008
– AQIM claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing in Tizi Ouzou province,
east of Algiers, on 3 August that reportedly injured 24 people.
- 9 August 2008
– an AQIM suicide bomber driving a vehicle laden with up to 300 kg of
explosives attacked the Coast Guard barracks and the gendarmerie in Zemmouri
el-Bahri in Boumerdes province, east of Algiers, reportedly killing six and
- 17 August
2008 – AQIM militants ambushed a military convoy between the provinces of
Skikda and Jijel, east of Algiers, killing 11 soldiers with roadside bombs and
small arms fire.
- 19 August
2008 – AQIM claimed responsibility for a large car bomb explosion outside a
police training school in Issers near Boumerdes province, east of Algiers,
killing 48 and injuring 45.
- 20 August
2008 – AQIM militants carried out attacks against a hotel and a police barracks
in Bouira, south-east of Algiers, killing 11 and injuring 38.
- 17 February
2009 – AQIM claimed responsibility for the 14 December 2008 kidnappings of
Canadian UN envoy Robert Fowler and his aide in Niger as well as the 23 January
2009 kidnappings of four European tourists – two Swiss, one German and one
British – in Mali.
- 26 May 2009 –
10 Algerian soldiers were killed and six other injured when their patrol was
ambushed by AQIM militants in Biskra province south-east of Algiers.
- 3 June 2009 –
AQIM released an internet statement claiming to have killed British hostage
Edwin Dyer, one of four European tourists kidnapped by the group in late
January 2009. It was later confirmed that Dyer had been beheaded by the group
- 17 June 2009
– 20 police officers and a civilian were killed by AQIM militants during an
attack on a security convoy in the Mansourah area of northern Algeria’s Bordj
Bou Arreridj province.
- 23 June 2009
– AQIM militants shot dead a US national in the Mauritanian capital Nouakchott.
- 29 July 2009
– 20 Algerian soldiers were killed when AQIM militants ambushed their convoy
with IEDs and small arms in Tipaza province west of Algiers.
- 8 August 2009
– two security guards were wounded when a suicide bomber detonated himself
outside the French embassy in the Mauritanian capital Nouakchott. Local
authorities attributed the attack to AQIM.
- 9 November
2009 – a senior army officer was killed and two soldiers were wounded when AQIM
militants detonated an IED in the Cap Djenet area of Boumerdes province, east
- 18 December
2009 - kidnapping of two Italian citizens by suspected AQIM militants in the
Mneyssiratt area of Mauritania.
- 25 November
2009 – AQIM associates kidnapped a French civilian from the town of Menaka in
Mali, near the border with Niger.
- 29 November
2009 – AQIM associates kidnapped three Spanish aid workers 170km north of
Nouakchott in Mauritania.
- 20 April 2010
– AQIM members kidnapped a French tourist and his Algerian driver in northern
Advocating the doing of terrorist acts
leaders and senior al-Qa’ida members including Ayman al-Zawahiri, have stated
publicly that AQIM should target US, French and other Western interests in
Algeria, across North Africa and into Western Europe.
basis of the above information, ASIO assesses that AQIM is directly and
indirectly engaged in, preparing, planning, assisting in and fostering the
doing of terrorist acts and advocating the doing of terrorist acts. It is
submitted the acts attributable to the AQIM are terrorist acts as they:
- are done with the intention of
advancing a political cause, namely the overthrow of the Algerian Government
and the establishment of an Islamic state ruled by Sharia law; and advancement
of al-Qa’ida’s political and religious causes.
- are intended to coerce or
influence by intimidation, the governments of foreign countries including
Mauritania, Morocco, Tunisia and Libya.
- constitute acts which cause serious physical harm to
persons, including death, as well as serious damage to property.
by the UN and other countries
AQIM is listed on the United Nations 1267 Committee’s
consolidated list as an entity associated with al-Qa’ida. AQIM has been also
listed as a terrorist organisation by the US. Canada and the UK still list the
group as the Salafist Group for Call and Combat (GSPC).