Maghreb al-Qaeda’s NYT debut sparks Algeria outrage

The New York Times scored a media coup July 1 with a front-page story on the revival Algeria’s Islamist militant underground following its transformation into an al-Qaeda franchise, “Ragtag Insurgency Gains a Lifeline From Al Qaeda.” The front-page story featured an interview (carried out by an intermediary using a tape recorder) with Abdelmalek Droukdal, who in 2004 “sent a secret message” to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, leader of “al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia,” resulting in “what one firsthand observer describes as a corporate merger.” The fruit of this union was “al-Qaeda in the Islamic Magreb,” which has since been wracking up high-profile attacks in Algeria. But many in Algeria are furious at the Times now, deeming the account free advertising for the terror franchise. Noted Magharebia July 3 (link added):

Droukdel claimed that his organisation does not target civilians and that 95% of those who died in the December 11th, 2007 bombings in Algiers were foreigners and Algerian security elements. Algerians were quick to condemn Droukdel’s efforts to justify his operations against civilians. One reader, himself a victim of terrorist operations, commented on Algeria’s Le Matin website that through his interview, Droukdel “has disclaimed all his dignity and honour as an Algerian, in the fullest sense of the word and decided to declare his allegiance to al-Qaeda.” “First and foremost”, another said, “the victims of the December 11th attacks were Algerians.”

See our last posts on Algeria and al-Qaeda.