Media Outlets Gauge Scale of Threat from Group’s Allegiance to Al-Qaeda
In September 2006, Ayman al-Zawahri announced the merger of the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) with al-Qaeda, raising fears the group would begin terror operations beyond Algeria’s borders.
The Guardian’s Ian Black noted in contrast that the group would likely remain a localized threat, citing George Joffe of Cambridge University, who matter-of-factly claimed that the group “is Algeria-based.”Ian Black, “A Homegrown Insurgency – or Global Jihad?” Guardian, December 11, 2007, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2007/dec/12/alqaida.terrorism1. In contrast, the Christian Science Monitor’s Middle East expert, Aron Lund, warned the same year that “this alliance underlines the regional, rather than Algerian, focus of [the] GSPC.” Lund pointed to a 2006 U.S. National Intelligence Estimate that “several North African groups, unless countered, are likely to expand their reach and become more capable of multiple and/or mass-casualty attacks outside their traditional areas of operation.” Moreover, Lund highlighted reports that GSPC units were spreading throughout the Sahara—popping up in Mauritania, Mali, and Niger—not to mention in Italy, where police disrupted a GSPC cell that was financing operations in Algeria.Aron Lund, “Merger with Al Qaeda Deepens Threat from Algerian Radicals,” Christian Science Monitor, October 3, 2006, http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/1003/p05s01-woaf.html.
Meanwhile, the BBC’s coverage several days after the report was published focused on the strong anti-France messaging from both al-Zawahri and the GSPC, noting that “GSPC singled out France as its ‘enemy number one’ [in 2005] and issued a call for action against the country.” Consequently, France’s interior ministry conceded a “high level threat” against France and France’s domestic security agency concurred that the threat of an attack was “very high and very international.”“Al-Qaeda ‘Issues France Threat,’” BBC News, September 14, 2006, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/5345202.stm.