Berto Jongman: Algeria Fronting for US in Fabricating Al Qaeda Threat and Legitimizing US Military Occupation of Sahara?

Berto Jongman

Only noticed now, two years old, but makes more sense now with Mali and Niger in play.

Al-Qaeda in the Sahel

Jeremy Keenan explains how a Saharan front in the ‘global war on terror’ was fabricated.

Jeremy Keenan

AlJazeera, 29 Aug 2010

In November 2009, Richard Barrett of the UN’s al-Qaeda-Taliban monitoring team said that while attacks by al-Qaeda and its operatives were decreasing in many parts of the world, the situation was worsening in North Africa. He was referring specifically to the Sahel region of southern Algeria, Niger, Mali and Mauritania.

While the UN statement fits the catastrophic image being portrayed of the Sahara-Sahel region by the US, European and other Western interests, the truth is not only very different, but even more serious in that both the launch of the Saharan-Sahelian front in the ‘global war on terror’ (GWOT) and the subsequent establishment of al-Qaeda in the region have been fabricated.

These two deceptions have one key feature in common, namely that they were both implemented by Algeria’s secret military intelligence service, the Département du Renseignement et de la Sécurité (DRS), with the knowledge and complicity of the US.

I will explain each in turn.

Militarising Africa

A Saharan front in the GWOT was planned by the US and Algeria in 2002 and launched in early 2003.

The pivotal incident that justified the launch of the new front was the abduction in February-March 2003 of 32 tourists in the Algerian Sahara, ostensibly by Islamic extremists of Algeria’s Groupe Salafiste pour le Prédication et le Combat (GSPC) under the leadership of Amari Saifi (aka El Para). However, it transpired that El Para was an agent of Algeria’s DRS and his false flag operation had been undertaken with the complicity of the US department of defence.

The idea of creating false flag incidents to justify military intervention is not new in US history. In 1962, for example, the US joint chiefs of staff drew up and approved plans, codenamed Operation Northwoods, that called for CIA and other operatives to commit acts of terrorism on innocent civilians in US cities and elsewhere, thus giving the appearance of a Communist Cuban terror campaign in Miami, other Florida cities and even Washington that would create public support for a war against Fidel Castro’s Cuba. The plan was ultimately rejected by President Kennedy.

Forty years later, in the summer of 2002, a very similar plan was presented to Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary, by his Defence Science Board (DSB). The Defence Science Board recommended the creation of a ‘Proactive, Preemptive Operations Group (P2OG)’, a covert organisation that would carry out secret missions to “stimulate reactions” among terrorist groups by provoking them into undertaking violent acts that would expose them to “counterattack” by US forces, along with other operations which, through the US military penetration of terrorist groups and the recruitment of local peoples, would dupe them into conducting “combat operations, or even terrorist activities”. The first ‘pilot’ test of the P2OG was El Para’s operation in Algeria.

I explained how and why this complex relationship between the US and Algerian security services developed in my book, The Dark Sahara. But to explain it in a nutshell: for the US, the presence of terrorism, fabricated or real, in the Sahara-Sahel region would legitimise the launch of a new front in the GWOT in Africa. This, in turn, and as explained subsequently by numerous US government officials, would justify the ‘militarisation’ of Africa (seen in the authorisation of AFRICOM in 2006 and its establishment in 2008) and the securement for the US of African oil resources.

For Algeria, its new relationship with the US would hopefully enable the procurement of modern high-tech military equipment for Algeria’s run-down military and a return from pariah status (after its Dirty War of the 1990s) to international acceptability as Washington’s key ally in the GWOT.

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