Algerian Terror Group Linked to Al Qaeda Threatens Attacks on U.S. Interests

The leader of Algeria's main Islamic insurgency movement threatened to target American and French backers of the Algerian government in a video posted on an Islamic Web site Tuesday.

France was taking the threat seriously, the country's Foreign Ministry said, adding that it is monitoring the activities of the Salafist Group for Call and Combat, known by its French acronym GSPC. The group recently announced links to Al Qaeda.

"America and France are looting (Algeria's) treasures and taking control over our destinies after the thief (Algerian President Abdelaziz) Bouteflika collaborated with them," Abu Musab Abdulwadood, the leader of the GSPC, said in the video.

"Just learn, O Bouteflika, along with your aides the generals and your crusader masters, that we are coming with all God's might," he also said.

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It wasn't possible to independently verify the authenticity of the video message. Excerpts of it were released on the Internet on Saturday, and a full transcript of the 20-minute video appeared Tuesday.

The group's leader, also known as Abdelmalek Dourkdel, vowed to press on with armed struggle and appealed to Usama bin Laden for instructions.

GSPC operations have been confined to Algeria, but the group claimed responsibility for an unusual attack near Algiers in November on employees of an affiliate of U.S. company Halliburton. French authorities have voiced concerns over potential GSPC cells in Europe.

Al Qaeda announced its union with the GSPC for the first time in a video in September. Al Qaeda's No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahri, said he hoped the alliance would work against Western interests, singling out the United States and France, which colonized Algeria.

The GSPC is the only substantial group left from an Islamic insurgency that was triggered in 1992 when the Algerian army stepped in to prevent a likely legislative election victory by the fundamentalist Islamic Salvation Front party. The ensuing fighting has left an estimated 150,000 people dead.

The GSPC is now said to number just a few hundred fighters, though scattered attacks blamed on the group are reported nearly every week. It has sought to exploit international links after being cornered by security forces at home, analysts say.

Last week, an Algerian news report said the GSPC's original head, Hassan Hattab, plans to turn himself in to authorities as part of an amnesty program.

In the new video, the GSPC leader compared Algeria's president to the U.S.-backed leaders of Iraq and Afghanistan, and noted that both those countries' governments are facing bloody attacks by Al Qaeda linked groups.

"They are fighting Islam and enabling the infidels to take control over their countries, and Bouteflika and his generals are fighting Islam and enabling the enemies to take control over our country," he said.

"We are extending our hands to every sincere Muslim, concerned about Islam in Algeria, to join the honor of defending its religion, land and dignity," Abdulwadood said.

French Foreign Ministry spokesman Jean-Baptiste Mattei said the government "takes all terrorist threats very seriously."

"Our security services are very closely following everything linked to the GSPC and its activities," he told reporters at a briefing in Paris. He said France has not boosted security measures for the at least 40,000 French citizens in Algeria, however.

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