Algeria - The struggle goes on

Developing Just Leadership

Muhammad H. al-'Asi

Dhu al-Qa'dah 17, 1416 1996-04-06

Bismillah Ar-Rahmaan Ar-Raheem. Alhumdulillah. Peace and blessings on Muhammad (sallalahu alaihi wa alihi wa sallam), his Noble Companions and Family. Dear Committed brothers, dear committed sisters,

I know that we are here at the end of the day the time limitations have become considerations from the podium; I also realise that the subject matter Algeria- The struggle goes on is a sensitive matter as concerns the segments of Mujahideen who are involved in the struggle in Algeria and so I will try to be somewhat brief and if I am too brief we can compensate for that, (I guess), in the penal discussion or question and answers or whatever formation follows the presentations here from the podium.

Let me trace the Algerian struggle or jihad to the make up of the Muslims in the Arab countries. Like Dr Kalim and brother Zafar before me, I would like to refer to the Ikhwan Al Muslimeen in Egypt being that they more-or-less have an extension into the formation of the different Islamic groups in many of these countries in the area. They probably also have their extension over here in Southern Africa but that’s not my concern at this moment. Al Ikhwan Al Muslimun began without any type of sentiment or inclination towards negotiating with the rulers during the time of the late Imam Hassan Al Banna. What happened though after him, (even though it hasn’t been accurately placed into the history books), may be summarised as a split in Ikhwan Al Muslimeen itself. One segment of the Ikhwan which was alluded to earlier and the one that has the highest voice today is the one that moved after the trials and tribulations of the ‘50s and ‘60s to Saudi Arabia and they became the mellowed Ikhwan. They mellowed out and they settled into a comfortable lifestyle and then they began to write and communicate with the instruments and the media available to them and give the impression that they are more-or-less representative of or represent the larger Islamic activities in the Arab countries. That is a very inaccurate representation of Islamic activities in Arab countries. These types of Ikhwan who went to Saudi Arabia and were affected by Saudi Arabia do not by any stretch of the imagination represent the Islamic activities in Arab countries and in particular the areas in which confrontations flare up- to be more specific, nowadays in Algeria and in Egypt.

Another segment of the Ikhwan who left the prisons, the torture chambers of Egypt, the detention centres and the horrible experiences there were revolutionalised by that. They did not mellow out like their counterparts who went to Saudi Arabia. They emerged with more determination to confront the regimes, particularly the Egyptian regime and then the others wherever they maybe be able to do so. They are referred to in the media negatively. They are rarely attributed or linked to the original Ikhwan even though, if you take a close look at their thoughts, you would find that they are the natural development of the founding years traceable to Hassan Al Banna and Sayyid Qutb.

Now, I had to say this because when we speak about Algeria, we’re speaking about these two trends. The trend that was revolutionalised after it emerged from the prisons of the Nasser and Sadat regimes and the other one that was mellowed out and went and found safe haven in Saudi Arabia and in the Gulf countries. In Algeria we have more or less a representation of these two trends. We have, basically, (making it simple here), two main streams that are opposing the government in an armed (manner)- they are armed. They have taken up arms and they are doing their part in as far as gaining their legitimate rights. One of them is called Jab’hat Al Inqadh, the FIS- Islamic Salvation Front in Algeria. The Islamic Salvation Front has an armed contingent to it that is duelling with the regime and I may add here the nature of the battle that is going on is very vicious. The Algerian regime does not find any problems if it knows that there are two armed Muslims in an area of tens of square kilometre of forest in the Atlas Mountains to pursue a scotched policy in killing just two armed Muslims. They’re willing to burn to the earth a whole tens of square kilometres just to get to two armed Muslims. This is no exaggeration. They go to other lengths in civilian areas, neighbourhoods, districts, sectors of the main cities, especially Algiers, terrorising the inhabitants there just because they have some type of information from some informers saying “there are some armed Islamic individuals in those areas.” (I’m going to have to reduce my presentation even more than I thought so). The other segment of resistance in Algeria is called the Armed Islamic Group, Jama’ah Al Islamiya Al Musallaha. This can be classified or can be described as similar to those Muslims who left the prisons and the detentions centres in Egypt with a determination not to compromise with what is called “the eradicators” (i.e.) those in the Algerian government, especially the officers in the armed forces, who are pursuing a civil war against their own people and they have not qualms about it. They’ll go to any lengths in doing that. The Armed Islamic Group has made it very clear from the beginning that “it is not willing to enter into any dialogue or any negotiations with these eradicators” (i.e.) the Generals who are ruling Algeria. Now in this context of Algeria there’s a broader Islamic Movement (i.e.) those who are Muslim activists in North Africa and in other places around who more-or-less cannot, at least in the terms that are expected, offer a support structure for the Muslims who are now locked in a life and death issue with the Algerian government. So we may say there is a type of abandonment because the finances of these other Islamic groupings have been in the orbit of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries in these financial orbits for the past twenty or thirty years and they find it very difficult to break from these financial orbits because their Islamic principle would dictate to them to come to support their brethren who are struggling and have paid a price over seventy-thousand shaheeds in the past couple of years. They cannot find it within themselves to have a principled position to support the Muslim struggle in Algeria even if that means that they have to rely on themselves and break from the Saudi Khaleeji or Saudi Gulf financial orbit.

Let me say over here, at this time, that, (and I’m consolidating these points within the time limit I have; there’s a little more to say then what I’m going to summarise here), if you can recall in the fifteen years ago when there were similar operations, (to a certain extent that is), in Syria there were a lot of people, (and in this part of the world I encountered it also), who were blaming the Islamic Republic in Iran or who were blaming the Islamic Revolution in Iran at that time: “why it is not able to come to the support of the Muslims in Syria?” You would find that, generally speaking, right now you don’t listen to anyone instigating the same type of question and saying “why isn’t the Islamic Republic coming to the support of the Muslims in Algeria?” Probably they would run into the difficulty of trying to explain why the Islamic Republic in Sudan- that is closer geographically, ethnically, logistically and in other senses of the term to Algeria than Iran is; but why isn’t anyone bringing up this issue right now!? Then you compare that with why they were bringing it up fifteen years ago and then you begin to realise some things that were not evident that time which right now could become very evident.

Let me also say, in a passing manner, there are also elements in Algeria that have sold themselves out to the government. I have happened to have met one of these elements- the Head of what is called HAMAS in Algeria, but don’t confuse HAMAS in Algeria with HAMAS in Palestine. These are two different orientations and two different sets of people; but there is a small Islamic OrgaNisa’tion in Algeria that goes under the title HAMAS. Its representative was in the United States maybe a little over a year ago and we happened to be in a discussion session with an old hand CIA operative who spent more than twenty years in the Middle East, (by the way he subscribes to the Crescent International. I never mentioned this to Zafar but I will now), and his daughter happens to be a Muslimah who recently got married to a Muslim from Chechenya. This person, even though he’s originally Christian he happens to be a Buddhist- a very complicated picture here but anyways… What they say in the United States- “once a CIA always a CIA.” So this person after twenty years, (you know what type of person he is), and then the Head of HAMAS goes to him after the discussion that we had and begins to spill the beans on everything that is happening in Algeria. I mean by name, by location; the particulars the details and some of us were flabbergasted. What is this person doing? Is he out of his mind? Does he understand what he is doing? But there they are and right now he is a Minister in the Algerian government. These types we are going to encounter; we’re going to have in our midst. They’re going to be praying, they’re going to come across as pious and wearing the attire of Islam but in soul and in spirit they belong somewhere else.

Another point that I want to make here is that the Algerian drama- as it is in the Western media- has made it very clear that going the Western way to democracy by the Muslims doesn’t work. These Muslims went to the ballot boxes. They had elections that meets the standards and the criteria of Western electioneering. They had their nominees, they had their representatives and it was in the broad sense of the word a very fair and free elections that brought Muslim representatives en mass to positions in the government; something that upset the expectations and the analysis of those who were planning these types of elections. Then they undid these elections. So for anyone- I think, during and after the dilemma of Algeria- who entertains the idea that Muslims may gain the decision making process through the instruments of democracy and elections, you better think twice and you have to explain to us why in Algeria and why in Bosnia elections didn’t work there and you better have a thorough explanation because we have over one third of a million people who have been killed after these elections just because they wanted to opt for a peaceful way of regaining positions that would put them in charge of the instruments of government. It has appeared to us very clearly through the course of Algeria that the West hates Islam more than it loves democracy. And if that is the case, those of us who haven’t discovered this have to rethink ourselves when it comes to dealing with the Western functionaries, with Western agents, with Western representatives in our lands.

I would also like to say here one particular detail very briefly- the Algerian government played a very dirty game on the Muslims and it is expected to do that because it is a life-and-death throe. What it did a couple years ago in one of the major prisons and detention centres in Algeria was it threw into the prison cells individuals who presented themselves to the Muslims in the cells as being Mujahideen. They were agents of the government. They had just barely enough information to have gained the confidence of these Muslims who were in prison and through out the extension of a few months gained enough information to make it possible after there was a breakout from that prison for the Algerian government to pursue the Mujahideen in a very elaborate dragnet throughout the country; the consequences of which there was a set-back for the Mujahideen in the past year-and-half or so. There is a general recuperation from that right now but it is something that these types of regimes will not hesitate to do. (It is) something we should learn from and never permit to happen again.

Let me also refer to the Ninja police officers in Algeria. The police in Algeria do not expose their faces to the public, neither do the judges for that matter. The police there wear masks. They are called “the Ninjas.” It could very well be that some of these police elements are not Algerian; they could be French, they could be Israeli, they could be Egyptian, they could be from other countries in the area- who knows?! So this may not be an internal Algerian affair. It may be another way of pursuing a war against the Muslims by involving others from outside.

I think my time is up. I don’t want to be cruel. I tried to summarise as much as possible some of the issues pertaining to the struggles of Muslims in Algeria. Let me end by saying this... The Algerian Muslims- even though we don’t expect the media in the West to highlight these points; but the Muslims in Algeria are the remnants of the Inquisitions in Iberia. When the Europeans came to the Muslims in what is now Spain and Portugal and told them “you either become Catholics or you leave or we’ll kill you” most of these people who left are the ones who are in Algeria. No one wants to bring this up; no one wants to look at it. Then Western civilisation has what it takes to go over in the form of the French forces and then colonise Algeria for a-hundred-and-thirty years and in the process kill a million of them. When Algeria was eight-million people in the late ‘50s early ‘60s paid one-eight; the price was one eight of its population to gain “independence”. Now they return and resurrect more massacres and more atrocities against these types of people. Now imagine if the Algerians were Jews. They would make a big sympathetic case for the Algerians in the world tracing it back to the Inquisitions through a-hundred-and-thirty years of French rule and up until this very day until somehow the Europeans and the West feel “wait a minute- we feel guilty about these people”; but no one feels guilty about them. It demonstrates to us the force the media has on the public, it demonstrates to us again the importance of having an independent and free Islamic voice as is the case with the Crescent.

Asalaamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.

Thank you.

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