Algeria claims blow against AQIM

Three armed Islamists, including a senior member of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) thought to be close to its leader Abdelmalek Droukdel, were arrested in central Algeria's Ghardaia province on Aug. 15. Necib Tayeb AKA Abderrahmane Abou Ishak Essoufi, the head of AQIM's so-called "judicial committee," had been wanted since 1995. The three were apprehended in a four-wheel-drive vehicle loaded with weapons at a checkpoint at the entrance to Berriane while apparently en route to the Sahel. Authorities hailed the arrests as a "fatal blow" to AQIM, which is said to be badly divided by internal factionalism. (Magharebia, Aug. 23; AFP, Aug. 20)