(Update) The GSPC and the Terror War in Europe
12:05 PM, Oct 5, 2006 • By DANIEL MCKIVERGAN
(Today's Washington Post has a lengthy http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/10/04/AR200610... target=_blank>piece on the GSPC. A couple of points: The Post suggests that since 2003 the GSPC "has planted deep roots in Europe [and] in the past year, authorities have broken up cells in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Switzerlandâ€¦" But there's evidence (see below) that the GSPC had its European network up and running by 2000 with the help of al Qaeda-linked Abu Doha. Also, were any GSPC terrorists trained in Iraq prior to the March 2003 invasion? It would be nice to get a conclusive answer one way or the other. The Senate Intelligence Committee doesn't mention the GSPC in its recent http://intelligence.senate.gov/ target=_blank>report on Iraq.)
Posted on September 14, 2006:
The BBC reports on Zawahiri's latest claim "that a radical Algerian Islamist group has joined al-Qaeda and is being urged to punish France." In the video that aired on a website on September 11, Zawahiri stated: "Osama Bin Laden has told me to announce to Muslims that the GSPC [the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat] has joined al-Qaeda." He called on the Algerian-based terror group to become "a bone in the throat of the American and French crusaders." The GSPC has since released a statement: "We pledge allegiance to Sheikh Osama Bin Laden... Our soldiers are at his call so that he may strike who and where he likes."
How did the GSPC come about?
In 1997, a splinter group emerged from Algeria's GIA (Armed Islamic Group) called the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, or GSPC. Stanley Bedlington, who worked counterterrorism for the CIA from 1986 to 1994, told USA Today in December 2001 that "we traced considerable sums of money going from bin Laden to the GIA in Algeria. We believed some of the money came from Iraq." But how close a relationship the GSPC had with al Qaeda before this recent pledge has been difficult to nail down. Some say there wasn't much of one; others believe the GSPC had close ties to bin Laden. A January 2004 analysis from the Center for Defense Information noted this on the relationship between the GSPC and bin Laden: