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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Maghreb Attacks Ideological, not popular.

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Maghreb Attacks Ideological, Not Popular.

Hugh Graham, August 21, 2008.

Al Qaeda in the Maghreb's escalating bombing campaign in North Africa would be even more appalling if it didn't somehow reek of the seventh century. Of course, on the surface, it all looks very modern. The suicide attacks on the 19th and 20th August in Algeria are part of a large, clever-sounding campaign to starve Europe of North African oil and gas, set up Islamist states across the Maghreb and convert the unstable Sahel, or sub-Saharan Africa from Mauretania to Darfur, into a rear base for supply and training. Beyond that, there's an even grander agenda- to turn North Africa into a base for attacks on Europe.

Yet there's a sort of historical deja vu in all this. Like the Umayyad Caliphate that first conquered North Africa for the Arabs and Islam and then moved on Europe, Al Qaeda is spreading itself through force and through local mergers rather than by popular backing or conversion. Like Al Qaeda, the Caliphate based in Damascus was not centralized. The far-flung margins of the Maghreb, conquered in the later seventh century, quickly became semi-autonomous regions and local governors wielded more power than did Damascus, though Damascus approved them. A little like Ayman al Zawahiri back in Wazriristan giving his blessing to an Algerian franchise called Al Qaeda the Maghreb. Of course the old Caliphates will certainly have lasted far longer than Al Qaeda will.

But the geographical proposition remains the same- a lot of loose links extending from the east into the remote west as far as Morocco. Like the Ummayyads before them, all Al Qaeda can do is project force from afar with a military vanguard, agents, proxies and mergers. Nor does Al Qaeda have the kind of strength the Ummayyads wielded to crush the North African Berbers. Nor does it have the mass migrations of Arab setters following close behind to inculcate the religion and ideology.

Imperial Islam has never been coherent. Like the old Muslim dynasties of the Maghreb, the local A Qaeda has grown from dissent and secession. Algeria's Islamic Armed Group (GIA) which had fought a ten year civil war with a secular government, collapsed due to its own excesses. It was succeeded by the Salafist Group for Call and Combat (GSPC) which finally became the autonomous 'Al Qaeda in the Maghreb' franchise in January, 2006. But we can be sure that Osama Bin laden has no more control pver Al Qaeda in the Maghreb than Damascus or Baghdad had over the heretical Shia who took refuge in the Maghreb only to blossom and found their own dynasties.

While following the spread of the 7th and 8th century Caliphate which doubtless inspires it, al Qaeda disseminates not belief but only isolated, thinly scattered horror. It can't hold a candle to the Idrisids, the Shia dissenters who fled Arabia and made an Islamic state in Morocco. While the Almohads, successors to the Idrisids, succeeded in purifying Islam and recapturing southern Spain from a Christian revival, all Al Qaeda has been able to do is get a bunch of Morocco-linked Spanish Muslim hash smugglers to kill 191 people on a train in Madrid. Nor has Al Qaeda been able to launch a coup d'etat in Tunisia, as the dissenting Shie Fatamids did in 909 before taking much of North Africa.

With Osama Bin Laden's talk of a world-wide Caliphate, the whole business of proselytizing and conversion is the one thing that just doesn't work. Al Qaeda can open up sub-groups in any Muslim country; it can fire up lost Muslim teenagers on the internet- but it can't convert nations and masses to its cause. The closest it has come is Afghanistan, where only the Taliban, the terrain and the low level of education have made it possible. As to Iraq, the people there have come to hate Al Qaeda. And finally, so do most in the Maghreb, not to mention Algeria, where most everyone must still associate it with the bloodthirsty horrors of the GIA.

TIMELINE FOR THE MAGHREB.

Phoenicians

1150 BC- north Coast of Morocco is inhabited by Phoenicians.

-Phoenicians rule Libya,

975-715 BC- the Libyans invade and conquer Egypt.

Greeks, Carthaginians

375 BC -Greeks rule coastal Libya

560 BC- Carthage in present-day Tunisia.

192 BC- Libya and Algeria ruled by the Kingdom of Numidia. Carthage reduced to Tunisia.
Morocco ruled by the Kingdom of Mauretania.

Rome

145 BC- Rome rules Carthage in present day Tunisia.

74 BC- Rome rules most of Numidia (Libya)

44 BC-14 AD- resistance against Rome in Mauretania.

67- Rome controls the entire coastal Maghreb from Egypt to the Atlantic.

-Rome rules Algeria as a province of the empire- Berbers pushed back into interior.

Vandals and Byzantines.

400-Vandals rule coastal Maghreb from Libya up to Roman Morocco.

-Vandals rule Algeria

500- Kingdom of the Vandals in Libya, Algeria.

525-565- Justinian takes coastal Libya, Algeria and Tunia for the Byzantine Empire.

-Byzantines rule Libya.

Arabs- The Muslim Invasions.

-647-698- Arabs conquer Libyan Tripolitania, Cyrencia and Dezzan for Islam.

-700s- Muslim conquest of Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco.

-740- revolts in the Maghreb against Umayyad taxation.

Morocco.

-788-964- Idris launches a failed Shia rebellion in Arabia, flees to Morocco. Arab Shia Idrisids founded by Idris I (a descendant of Ali) rule Morocco.

-Idris II of Morocco founds Fez.

-808- Fez, Morocco, an important political and cultural center.


Tunis

-800-909- the Aghlabids in Tunisia gain idependence from the Abbasids. The Aghlabid Emirate in Tripolitania (Libya)

-the Rustamid Imamate in coastal Algeria.

-909- after a coup d’etat, the Shia Fatamids (who claimed descent from Mohammed daughter, Fatima) establish a dynasty in Tunisia.

-the Fatamids go on to conquer all of North Africa.

-1046-1147- The Almoravids

The Almohads of Morocco.

1130-1269- the Almohads of Morocco launch invasions in Spain to stop the Christian resurgence.

-Almohads spread Islam into sub-Saharan Africa.

Europe and the Ottoman Empire.


1434- Western Sahara discovered by Portugal.

1551- Ottomans conquer Libyan provinces of Tripolitania, Cyrencia .

1566- Algiers on Barbary Coast and Tunis controlled by the Habsburgs.

1574- Ottomans conquer Tunisia.

-Ottomans divide Libya into the regencies of Tripolitania, Tunisia and Algeria.

Tripolitania, piracy and war with Europe.

-pirates based in Tripoli prey on Christian shipping.

1620- (circa) Janissary military caste of slave soldiers sends out their own appointed Dey who often had more power than the provincial governors appointed by the Sultan.

1650- the entire Mediterranean and its coasts are controlled by the Ottomans, save for Morocco, Spain, France and Italy.

1711- the Janissary Ahmad Karamanli becomes Dey, kills the Ottoman governor of Tripolitania and and persuades the Ottomans to name him governor. The post of governor remains in the Karamanli family until 1835.

-the Karamanli Deys of Tripolitania extract heavy tribute from the Tripoli pirates and extend Ottoman rule into the interior.

1801-1805- war between the US and Tripoli about the amount of tribute US shipping should pay to the Dey for protection from pirates.

1815-1835 England, France, and the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies successfully extirpate piracy, vastly reducing the tribute paid to the Dey of Tripolitania.

French Colonization.

1830- France sends colonists into Algeria.

1835- hereditary dynasty of the Karamanli Deys of Tripoli ends due to European extirpation of piracy which diminished tribute to the Karamanlis. Direct Ottoman rule is re-established.

1842- Ottomans conquer Libyan province of Fazzan.

-Tripolitania and Cyrencia are stable but politically and economically autonomous from Constantinople.

-the Sanusi brotherhood gains recruits from Cyrenaica, Tripolitania and Fazzan.

French rule of Northwest Africa.

1848- Algeria is annexed to France and given a French administrative structure, with departments- in Oran, Constantine and Algiers.

1870- most of Algeria is under French military control.

1881- Morocco becomes a French protectorate.

1881- Algeria formally becomes part of France.

1883- Tunisia, due to its strategic location at the center of the Mediterranean, becomes a French protectorate.

1884- the Western Sahara claimed as a protectorate by Spain.

Entente Cordiale

1904- Entente Cordiale- Morocco falls under French influence.

1902- France fully controls Algeria.

Italian Invasion of Tripoli

1911- Italy declares war on Turkey and occupies Tripoli. End of Ottoman rule.

1912- treaty of Ouchy- Italy gives autonomy to Tripoli and northern Libya. However fighting continues.

European Competition for Morocco.

-France intervenes in Morocco to put down a rebellion. Germany competes with France for influence in Morocco.

1912- most of Morocco is a French protectorate. The Treaty of Fez establishes French Morocco with a capital at Rabat and Spanish Morocco in the northern Rif area with a capital at Tetouan.

1914- Italy occupies most of Libya but becomes locked in a long war against the Sanusi and their allies.

1919- Algerians are without civil rights, save for a small elite given rights in return for renouncing their Islamic faith and customs. The French take the best land for agriculture, with Algerian peasants working the land for low wages.

-the French-educated Tunisian elite demand more political participation in their own affairs.

Resistance in Morocco.

1920-34 –rebel Abd al Krim leads resistance against Spanish, then French Morocco.

1923- International Zone created in Tangiers, Morocco.

Italy Creates Libya.

1934- Italy combines Tripolitania and Cyrenaica, naming the region Libya. Fazzan is part of Tripolitania.

-Italian governor of Libya, Italo Balbo builds schools, hospitals and government buildings in Libya.


Resistance in Tunisia.

1934- the Tunisian socialist Neo-Destour party led by Habib Bourguiba becomes the focus of opposition to French colonial rule, demanding an incremental process of liberation.

1930s- -the nationalist Istiqlas movement rises in Moroccan cities. But French administrator Marshal Lyautey keeps the rebel movement in check.

-Italy sends 40,000 colonists to the plateau region of Libya.

World War II- German-Allied struggle for Libya.

1939- Libya becomes an Italian province.

1940-45- British and French fight Germans for control of Libya. Alergia is ruled by the Vichy government.

1940- Moroccan rebels encouraged by France’s defeat by Nazi Germany

1943- Libya placed under British-French military rule.

June 3- DeGaulle sets up the Committee of National Liberation on Algiers

1943 -French and Anglo-American forces liberate Tunisia from German occupation.

Colonialism Reasserts Itself.

-French colonists in Tunisia insist on reasserting control.

1944- in Morocco the Istiqlas movement is made official.

1947- Italy concedes all claims to Libya. Algerian nationalists are promised full political rights. But France’s fourth republic is too weak to force conservative Algerian colonists to live up to the commitment. Moreover, the military commanders also side with the colonists.

1951- Libya becomes an independent kingdom with a constitution. The Emir of Cyrencia, Muhammad Idris al Sanusi (the Sunusi brotherhood) is proclaimed King Idris I. Poor in natural resources, Libya is dependent on the US and Britian for economic aid.

Renewed Anti-Colonial Resistance

1953- the Moroccan Sultan Ibn Yusuf is deported by France to Madagascar because of his alleged support of the Isliqlas nationalism movement.

1953-54- Libya allows the US and Britain to establish bases provided they pay an annual subsidy.

The Franco-Algerian War.

1954-62- in response to brutal repression, the guerilla forces of the Algerian FLN wage war against French occupation. The country is destroyed; the colonists take most of their wealth with them to France.

-Boumerdas and Tizi Ouzou, in the Berber region of Kabylia in eastern Algeria is a center of resistance.

-under Ben Bella- the farms of emigrated Algerian colonists are nationalized and ruled through peasant autonomy.

Tunisian Autonomy.

1954- after growing unrest, France grants autonomy to Tunisia.

1955- Istiqlas nationalists start a guerrilla war in Morocco.

Moroccan Independence.

1956- Feb 18- France grants Morocco independence. Sultan Ibn Yusuf returns and is made King Muhammad V. Muhammad gets broad popular backing in wielding absolute power to develop industry and exploit mineral resources.

-after imprisoning Tunsian Habib Bourguiba, the French government under Mendes France decides he is a moderate compared to other Arab leaders and allows him to run for president.

Tunisian Independence.

1956- Tunisia becomes independent from France. The monarchy is abolished. Habib Bourguiba becomes Prime Minister.

1956- Morocco becomes independent from French and Spanish protectorates.

1957- Morocco occupies the Western Sahara.

1957- Tunisia becomes a republic as Habib Bourguiba is elected president.

1959- oil discovered in Libya.

1961- Hassan II succeeds to the throne of Morocco. He is also prime minister.

Algerian Independence.

1962- Algeria gains independence from France. Ahmed Ben Bella is the first president of the republic.

-in Libya, rapid modernization, centralization of the formerly decentralized state and the vote for women alienates many Muslims.

1962- Bouguiba succeeds in getting the French to withdraw their military bases from Tunisia.

1963- after conflict between its three regions, Libya changed from a federal state to a unitary state.

1964-66- Anglo-Libyan treaty ends and British troops are withdrawn from Libya.

Algeria's Boumedienne

1965- the Algerian government of Ben Bella is overthrown in a coup d’etat by Houari Boumedienne who maintains a dictatorship until 1974.

-under Boumedienne, Algerian peasant self-government is abandoned because of low productivity. Boumedienne shifts his socialist economic policy to nationalization and industrialization. Islamic and Arabic religious and cultural identity is promoted. Nevertheless Algeria remains economically dependent on France, where many Algerians are working.

Moroccan Dictatorship

1965- after riots in Casablanca, Hassan II of Morocco, declares a royal dictatorship.

Libya and Ghaddafi.

1969- Spet 1, 1969- Colonel Ghaddafi takes power in a coup and rules with the Revolutionary Command Council. The 1951 constitution is ended. Gaddafi appeals sucessfully to anti-Communist, anti-capitalist, pro-Islam Arab nationalism. He embraces international, Islamist causes and supports terror operations in Lebanon, Egypt and Chad.

-Ghaddafi nationalizes foreign-owned industries; provides free health care, minimum wage, the right to work and an education system. Grass roots local committees provide an illusion of populist democracy. He is socialist but anti-communist.

-Ghadaffi is oriented toward the Middle East rather than North Africa and forms close ties with Egypt and Syria.

1969-1970- Ghaddafi resists military coups launched against him.

-last US and British bases expelled from Libya.

1970-72- Ghaddafi is prime minister of Libya.

Hassan II's Authoritarianism in Morocco.

1970- Hassan II of Morocco reforms the constitution but still hangs on to his supreme religious and political authority.

1971-1972- continued poverty and royal absolutism lead to unsuccessful attempted coups against Morocco’s Hassan II.

1970s- foreign military stations closed down in Libya. Ghaddafi promotes Islam andArab unity.

-Ghadaffi supports dictator Idi Amin of Uganda as a fellow Muslim.

1973- terrorist attacks against Moroccan government.

Ghaddafi's Arab Nationalism.

-Ghadaffi launches a Libyan “cultural revolution” to entrench socialist and Muslim values.

Oct- Libya contributes troops and supplies to the Arab cause in the Yom Kippur war against Israel.

1974- with all opposition having been outlawed, Tunsian President Habib Bourguiba declared president for life. However, state control over education and the economy brings stability and increased rights for women.

1974- Algerian President Boumedienne holds elections. He is declared president by a new constitution.

1975- the former Spanish Sahara comes under joint control of Morocco, Mauritania and Spain. The southern area, Tiris al Gharbia, is shared by Mauritania and Morocco.

-the Algerian economy is increasingly dependent on oil.

-Ghadaffi survives another attempted coup.

Polisario Conflict with Morocco over Western Sahara.

1976- the Spanish Sahara is re-named the Western Sahara. The Algeria-based Polisario Front sets up a government in exile. The Polisario calls the disputed region The Saharan Arab Democratic Republic.

-Tunisian government’s refusal to legalize opposition parties causes political unrest and provokes the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in the 1970s and 1980s.

1976-80- Hassan II deploys a large army to block Polisaro forces from infiltrating Morocco’s western border. Despite military backing from the U.S., he is unable to contol the Western Sahara.

1979- The Polisario, an Algerian-backed liberation front in the Western Sahara forces Mauretania to withdraw. Morocco becomes responsible for the Spanish Sahara despite an independence movement there which is not recognized by Morocco.

1979- Algerian President Chadi Benjedid succeeds Boumedienne.

1980- Ghaddafi launches a campaign of assassination against Libyan dissidents in Europe.

1981- a drop in the price of oil increases the burden of Algeria’s foreign debt. Boumedienne’s successor Chadli is forced to adopt market-oriented economic reforms and austerity measures.

1982- in response to Libyan support for international terrorism, the US bans Libyan oil imports.

Fundamentalism Emerges in Tunisia.

1983-84- Islamic Fundamentalists riot against Tunisian president Bourguiba. His influence is reduced.

1984- urban unrest prompts Hassan II of Morocco to appoint a coalition government of national unity under a civilian prime minister.

-the war in the Western Sahara puts increasing strain on the Moroccan economy throughout the 1980s.

1984- UK accuses Libya of the murder of a police officer in London and severs relations.

-Ghaddafi invades northern Chad for its alleged uranium reserves. But his offensive fails.

1986- Libyan terrorists accused in the bombing of a US forces night club in Germany. President Reagan orders the bombing of Benghazi and Tripoli in an attempt to kill Gaddafi.

Fundamentalism in Tunisia.

1987- due to political unrest, Tunisian president Bourguiba, on grounds of senility, is deposed by his prime minister, Ben Ali. Ben Ali attempts to bring in multi-party politics. But political liberalization is slowed down by resistance from Islamic fundamentalists.

1988- reforms made in the Tunisian constitution to allow opposition parties some minimal representation in the legislature.

1988- The UN decides that the Sahrawi people of Western Sahara should hold a referendum on independence under the Polisario or rule by Morocco.

1988- a Pan Am jet, later found to be rigged with explosives by Libyan agents, explodes and comes down over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing all aboard.

Fundamentalism in Algeria.

-in Algeria the official policy of economic and cultural nationalism fails as Chadli’s austerity measures provoke an Islamic fundamentalist backlash.

1989- in Algeria, Chadli changes the constitution to allow for political parties including the Islamist Islamic Salvation Front- despite their vow to destroy the existing order.

1989- two Libyan fighter jets shot down by warplanes from US aircraft carrier off the North African coast.

-internal and external pressures cause Ghaddafi to withdraw from Chad, allow private enterprise, withdraw support from terror groups and hand over evidence to Britain that he gave support to the IRA.

-Ghaddafi continues building chemical weapons.

The Maghreb Union

1989- the Maghreb Union is founded in Marrakesh, Morocco- with Hassan II, Chadli of Ageria, Zine of Tunisia, Gaddafi of Libya and Sidi Ahmed of Mauritania.

1990- first Maghreb Union summit in Tunis.

-second Maghredb Union Summit in Algiers calls for the princiuple of a customs union.

1990- December- a general strike in Morocco.

-Ghaddafi condemns Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait.

Crackdown on Islamists in Libya.

- Ghaddafi’s increasing moderation causes him to imprison 2,000 Islamist radicals.

1991- UN-brokered ceasefire between the Polisario and Morocco.

Islamists Garner Most Votes in Algerian Eelections.

1991- in Algerian elections, the Islamic Salvation front wins almost half the seats in parliament desppite only 25% of the popular vote and Chadli resigns, giving way to a 5-member transitional state council.

Islamic Insurgency in Algeria.

-an Algerian Islamic insurgency started in 1992 after authorities cancelled elections an Islamist party was poised to win.

1992- February-9- Algeria’s State Council bans the Islamic Salvation Front.

-1992-1999- Algerian civil war between Islamists and the government takes 100,000 lives.

1992- UN imposes sanctions against Libya after it refuses to extradite two Libyans accused in the bombing which brought down a Pan AM passenger plane over Lockerbie, Scotland.

1992- clashes in Algeria between government forces and guerillas of the Islamic Salvation Front. The civil war will last throughout most of the 1990s.

-Libya suffers from UN sanctions, despite its oil wealth.

1994- Tunisian president Ben Ali is re-elected; further constitutional reforms are brought in. However the threat from Islamic fundamentalists is handled by imprisoning them.
Ben Ali promotes Tunisian cultural nationalism against continued French influence.

1995- Morocco- a referendum brings about the formation of a bicameral legislature.

Founding of GSPC.

1998- the G.S.P.C. is created as an offshoot of the Armed Islamic Group (GIA), which along with other Islamist guerrilla forces fought a brutal decade-long civil war after the Algerian military canceled elections in early 1992 because an Islamist party was poised to win. The group is founded by Hassan Hattab, a former Armed Islamic Group (GIA) regional commander after breaking with the GIA in in protest over the GIA's slaughter of civilians.

1999- April 5- in a compromise with Ghaddafi, the Lockerbie suspects are handed over under Scottish law for trial at the international criminal tribunal at the Hague. UN sanctions against Libya are lifted.

End of Civil War in Algeria.

1999- Abdul Aziz Bouteflika is elected president despite withdrawal of all other candidates in protest of unfair elections; with approval by referendum, he declares an amnesty with the Islamic Salvation Front and promotes reconciliation, bringing an end to the civil conflict in Algeria.

-many former Algerian GIA fighters lay down their arms, but a few remain active, including members of the GSPC.

1999- Hassan II of Morocco dies and is succeeded by Mohammed VI.

-Mohammed VI brings about reform and reconciliation and allows opposition leaders to return to Morocco. He dismisses Driss Basri, Hassan’s Minister for Domestic Affairs.

2000- Islamist attacks continue in Algeria, despite amnesty.

2000- African immigrant workers killed by Libyan mobs

2001- Lockerbie trial in the Netherlands results in one conviction.

-various countries including the US begin to do business with Libya again. Thus Libya avoided being a target in the War on Terror.

-Morocco: Mohammed IV’s reforms in such matters as women’s rights, prompt a backlash from Islamic fundamentalists.

2001-May- Algerian Berbers in Kabylie are killed by police while protesting police brutality. Later in the year the government gives official status to the Berber language.
The main Berber party withdraws from the government in protest.

2002- US and Libya hold reconciliation talks.

Beginning of post- 9-11 Sucide Attacks

2003- May 16- 5 suicide blasts in Casablanca hitting Jewish and Spanish targets.

June- Abassi, Madani leader of Algeria’s Islamic Salvation Front freed from prison.

-Libya elected to chair the UN Human Rights Commission.

August- Libya takes responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing and compensates families of the victims, promises to halt programs for weapons of mass destruction.

GSPC mass kidnapping in Algeria.

2003- a G.S.P.C. leader in southern Algeria kidnaps 32 European tourists, some of whom are released for a ransom of 5 million euros (about $6.5 million at current exchange rates), paid by Germany. Officials say the leader, Amari Saifi, bought weapons and recruited fighters before the United States military helped corner and catch him in 2004. He is now serving a life sentence in Algeria.

Moroccan Connection to Madrid Train Bombing.

2004- March 11- suicide bombing of train in Madrid kills 191, injures over 1,000. Lengthy investigation concludes that cells did not come from any well known Islamist group but from Morrocaan hash-smuggling rings previously connected with an Al Qaeda group which became defunct.

-April- Algerian President Boutelika re-elected in a landslide.

June- Abdelmalik Droukdel announces his arrival with a truck bomb at the Algeria’s most important electrical production facility and focuses on associating the GSPC with Al Qaeda. . “The Algerian military says he cut his teeth in the 1990s as a member of the Armed Islamic Group’s feared Ahoual or “horror” company, blamed for some of the most gruesome massacres of Algeria’s civil war.” NYT

-GSPC (al-Qaeda-linked Salafist Group for Call and Combat) declares war on all foreign nationals and interests in Algeria.

- British P.M. Tony Blair visits Libya.

-5 Bulgarian nurses imprisoned in Libya for infecting chidren with HIV.

GSPCmounts attacks in Mauretania.

2005- June – an “attack against a military barrack in Mauritania, executed by Khaled Abul Abbas, chief of the GSPC in the Sahara came as part of this tendency, according to well informed sources. Al-Qaeda was interminably giving guidelines to the Salafist Group since 9/11 attacks.” (ALGERIA EVENTS)

-June-- “Indications that a cross-border alliance was under way came…when the G.S.P.C. attacked a military outpost in Mauritania, killing 15 soldiers. The attackers fled into Mali, according to the United States military.” NYT

End of GIA.

-Nourredine Boudiafi, head of Algeria’s Armed Islamc Group, is arrested, ending the groups effective existence.

September 2005- “the Center for Strategic and International Studies estimated that 600 Algerians were fighting as foreign jihadists in Iraq. At the time, this was believed to be 20 percent of the total strength of the foreign insurgents in Iraq -- the largest of any single group.” -STRATFOR

-Algerian government promises Berbers language rights and capital invesment.

2005- Libya opened to international oil exploration and investment.

GSPC links up, merges with Al Qaeda.

Dec 8- the extremist Algerian Salafist Group for Call and Combat (GSPC) plans to set up an Al-Qaeda branch in the Maghreb countries as a base for attacks to be launched on the countries that support US administration.

2006- January- Al Qaeda in the Maghreb is officially formed from the Algerian GSPC, the Moroccan GICM (responsible for the Casablanca and Madrid bombings in 2003 and 2004 respectively), and other Tunisian elements.

2006- February- Libyans riot against Danish newspaper cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.

Al Qaeda in the Maghreb.

Sept 11- Ayman Zawahiri of Al Qaeda announces the formation of Al Qaeda in the Maghreb.

2006- 6 month Algerian amnesty for Islamists.

2006- May- US begins restoring full diplomatic relations with Libya.

-Algeria, recovering economically, commits itself to paying back its $8 billion national debt.

-September, Rabah Kebir, leader of the Islamic Salvation front, returns to Algeria and urges Islamist militants to disarm.

Dec 10- Algeria- bus bombed carrying foreign oil workers.

2006-2007- Libya’s Gaddafi joins Egypt and Sudan in several attempts at a peace settlement in Darfur.

December- 5 Bulgarian nurses and Palestinian doctor accused of inflecting children with HIV sentenced to life imprisonment.

Dec 2006 to January 2007- (Dec. 23, Jan 3) Algerian Salafist groups engage Tunisian police and army units with 14 terrorists and some police killed.

-Libya cuts the government labour force and moves to stimulate private enterprise.

Al Qaeda in the Sahel.

February- news reports point to Al Qaeda training camps in the Sahel from Senegal to Ethiopia with plans to attack targets in Europe.

Feb 13- GSPC claims responsibility for car bombings in Boumerdas and Tizi Ouzou, on the Berber region of Kabylia in eastern Algeria. (This was a center of resistance during the Algerian war).

-Feb 16 - in the mountain retion of Qashra near the town of Skikda, Alergian police kill 26 and arrest 35 militants in response to the Feb 13 car bombings.

Al Qaeda in the Maghreb present in Morocco.

Feb 20- Moroccan police search for Hmam Bilal et Bel Hachmi and Mohamed Rida who are accused of having ties with groups including the Algeria-based al Qaeda Organisation in the Islamic Maghreb,

March 4- Algeria- bus carrying Algerian and Russian gas-line workers bombed- killing 3 Algerians and a Russian.

March 11- suicide bombing in Casablanca internet cafe.

April 10- three suicide blasts kill and wound police in raid on Casablanca safe house.

April 11- Algiers- bombings of the police station and prime minister’s office claim 17 lives. Claimed by Al Qaeda.

April 14- two suicide bombings on US diplomatic offices in Casablanca.

June 11- suicide truck bomb kills soldiers at military barracks near Algiers. GSPC claims responsibility.

July- the Bulgarian nurses and the doctor have death sentences in Libya commuted to life. Under a deal with the European Union, they are all repatriated.

Sept 6- suicide blast kills twenty prior to vistit of President Boutefilka near Algiers.

Sept 8- GSPC claims responsibility for bombing of military barracks, killing 37 at Dellys, Algeria.

Oct 7- Zareg Zoheir, mastermind of GSPC suicide bombings killed by Algerian police.

Dec 11- 67 killed in suicide blasts at Constitutional Court and UN offices in Algiers.

Dec 25- French tourists killed by gunman in Mauretania.

2008- Jan 2- suicide attack near police station in Algiers.

Feb 1- gun attack on Israeli embassy in Nouakshott, Mauretania.

March- heavy fighting in eastern Algeria between GSPC and Algerian army.

April- Spanish police arrest 2 Moroccans in 2003 Casablanca bombings.

June 6- roadside bomb kills 6 soldiers in Algeria.

June 8- double suicide blast in Algerian train station.

July 14- leader of GCPC in Algeria killed in police raid.

Aug 19- Les Issers, Algeria- 43 killed in suicide bombing at police academy.

Aug 20- double car-bomb attack on Bouira, Algeria, kills workers from a Canadian eater treatment project.
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