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Wednesday, January 17, 2007


Casablanca, 17 Jan. (AKI) - Al-Qaeda linked Algerian terror formation the Salafite Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) is still active in Algeria and is setting its sights on Morocco and Tunisia in a bid to become an international network, according to an expert interviewed on Wednesday by Spanish daily El Pais, Khadija Mohsen-Finan, a Tunisian researcher at France's Institute of International Relations. Tunisian and Moroccan police also back her conclusion, El Pais said.

Tunisian and Moroccan security forces have in recent weeks carried out raids aimed at breaking up alleged terror cells, and in Morocco, smashed a cell believed to be recruiting youngsters to fight holy war in Iraq, El Pais reported.

Itis also possible that the GSPC's ranks may have been swollen by Algeria's president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika's amnesty last year for Islamic militants, under which the authorities have reportedly freed 2,200 jailed militants. The amnesty, approved in a 2005 referendum, was part of the reconciliation process following a civil war in which and estimated 200,000 people have died.

The Algerian authorities, after inital hesitation, sent the list of freed militants to European countries, including France and Spain. The Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla - where Muslims form a sizeable group - are Islamist militant 'hotspots', and the Spanish authorities have raised their alert levels there.

In a message last December, al-Qaeda's number two, Ayman al-Zawahiri, released a message urging Muslims to rise up against Spain's "occupation" of the two enclaves - located on the Moroccan coast.

The GSPC on 11 September last year - the fifth anniversary of al-Qaeda's deadly attacks on the United States - swore allegiance to the network's leader Osama bin Laden.
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