by Mustapha Shirazi (Occupied Arab World, Crescent International Vol. 26, No. 16, Jumada' al-Akhirah, 1418)
Junta’s way to blame and to eradicate
August and September 1997 were the darkest months in the Algerian junta’s war against its people since the pro-French military coup of 11 January 1992 which thwarted victory of the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) at the poll. Large-scale massacres have been carried out against civilians since August 1996 with impunity, without any ‘terrorist’ being apprehended.
At least 300 people were massacred on the night of 28-29 August 1997 at Rais, in the Sidi Moussa area, near the capital city of Algiers. The night before, over 50 people were decapitated in Blida, in the vicinity of Algiers. At both Rais and in Blida, the victims’ heads were perched on people’s doorsteps. A bomb in a commercial street of Central Algiers killed an unspecified number of people and injured more than a hundred, according to eyewitnesses, on 27 August; 45 people were slaughtered at night in Hadjout, near Algiers and 45 others in Jelfa, on 29.
Various concordant popular reports said that several hundred people were massacred on the night of 7/8 September in the village of Sidi Youcef very close to Beni Messouss, the western end of Algiers. Beni Messouss houses the headquarters and torture centre of the notorious secret service, Securite Militaire, as well as several military centres including two major garrisons. Fifty-three people were butchered in Medea, west of Algiers in the night of 19/20 September and at least 200 people were slaughtered in the night of 22/23 September. Starting with the Msila massacre of 17 August 1996, over 42 major massacres have been committed against innocent Algerian villagers by 6 September 1997.
The Algerian people have never seen such dreadful, cold-blooded, macabre killings of innocent citizens, and daytime bombings of populous areas, except under French colonialism. These atrocities have escalated noticeably from the month of Ramadan (January 1997). They have shot up, astonishingly, after the 5 June 1997 parliamentary elections to culminate to the present unprecedented degree of atrocity after the release of Abbasi Madani, the leader of the FIS, on 15 July, amid secret negotiations between the President, General Zeroual, and some elements of the FIS, including its eastern region’s armed branch (AIS) leader, Madani Merzaq.
The assailants, who number a few scores to a hundred, according to witnesses, would invade villages at night and attack relentlessly, for several hours, the inhabitants making no distinction of age or gender. The corpses are usually decapitated, mutilated or burnt. The targets are strongholds of the Islamic Salvation Front with no exception.
Invariably, these horrors have mostly occurred within the government designated cordon sanitaire, Greater Algiers and its vicinity: the area where the junta has the largest concentration of troops and security services.
Invariably, the Algerian Francophile press and the Algerian News Agency APS, which all belong to various clans of anti-Islamic military eradicators, have systematically attributed such grim and savage acts to the Islamists. The daily Le Matin (27 August 1997) went even further in its usual psychological warfare by claiming that the attackers called themselves ‘Al-Ghadhiboon ‘Alaa Allah’ (‘The Angry Against God’), supposedly because God did not grant them victory.
Invariably and consistently, the French and other western media, with very few exceptions, acted as a more efficient relay of the Algerian Francophile media to cover up the truth, turning the victims into the butchers.
The voice of the real representatives of most of the Algerian people, the Islamists, has been suppressed in favour of the conspicuous propaganda of a group of notorious Francophiles like Rashid Mimouni and Rashid Boudjedra, Said Saadi and Khalida Messaoudi; they all have easy access to the French media and prime time television programmes.
Invariably, the integral role of France in the sinister tragedy being played out in Algeria has been systematically occulted. Only very few sincere, but unpublicised voices rose in France to denounce the dishonourable French official involvement alongside the Algerian junta.
Many questions can be asked. Why is it that journalists have not been allowed to go to the scenes of the carnage each time? Why is it that the massacres keep going on for several hours, audibly, with no intervention by the security or military forces which in many cases happen to be very close to victims (see map)? Why is it that only the Algerian political police Securite Militaire can release information related to these massacres?
Why is it that the junta turned down, at the beginning of last month, the UN Secretary-General’s appeal for ‘an urgent solution’ to the nightly massacre of the population? Why did the generals re-incarcerate Abbasi Madani for responding positively to the UN Secretary-General’s message? Why have they ignored the same stand taken by major, independent opposition? Why is the West silent?
French press reports, sociologists and anthropologists have deviously explained away the ‘violence’ as inherent to the fighting mentality the Algerians developed in a 132-year resistance to French colonialism.
In reality the whole issue revolves around one fundamental fact, namely that some interests see Islam as an impediment to their imperialist goals not only in Algeria, but also in all the Maghreb. In this context, the macabre atrocities committed against innocent civilians, have one goal: discredit Islam as a social, economic and political ideal in the eyes of the ordinary Algerian.
This explains the entire psychological warfare by the media accusing the Islamists for the massacres. They know these are carried out by the anti-Islamic eradicators led by General Lamari. Lamari is France’s man par excellence in the Algerian army. The imprisonment of Abbasi Madani soon after his recent parole also seems to fall within the same game plan: while President-General Zeroual, in his scheme to sabotage the Islamic movement, saw Abbasi Madani - not the outspoken FIS co-leader Ali Belhadj - as the interlocuteur valable, the eradicators feared Zeroual’s move might give a fresh opening for Islam on the political scene.
Courtesy: Impact International, London.
Muslimedia: October 16-31, 1997