ALGIERS, (Xinhua) --
The threat of the return of foreign fighters to
the North African and Sahel regions after the defeat of Islamic
State (IS) in Syria and Iraq, obsesses Algeria as neighboring
countries like Libya, Niger and Mali are still suffering
security instability, which could constitutes safe heaven to
those foreign fighters.
In Algeria, security
services have been dismantling several networks specializing in
transferring young recruits to IS strongholds, particularly in
Syria via Turkey. Meanwhile, terrorist groups affiliated to IS
have been inflicted heavy losses by army troops in recent years,
as they became helpless.
But today, another
obsessing issue is emerging, as a UN report warns that Some
6,000 African fighters, who joined IS camps in Iraq and Syria,
could return home and poise threat to the region, especially in
case they join other armed organizations activating in the Sahel
region, including in Libya and northern Mali.
At the first meeting
of the Global Counterterrorism Forum’s Capacity-building in the
West Africa Region Working Group held in October 2017 in
Algiers, Algerian Foreign Minister, Abdelkader Messahel said the
risk of the return of foreign terrorist fighters to the African
Sahel after the losses inflicted by international coalition to
IS in Syria and Iraq, seems to be the main terrorist related
challenge that faces the region.
reinforcing border security cooperation and improving living
conditions of the region’s population, including youngsters, to
deter them from joining terror groups in exchange of money.
underlined the importance to dry financial sources for terrorist
groups, including ransom payment, as well as drug and arms
trafficking, which provide huge sums of money to these groups,
making them more powerful.
In an interview with
Xinhua, professor of political science at the University of
Algiers, Dr. Ali Rebidj, noted that all indicators show that
Libya looks the safe haven for potential returning of the
thousands of IS foreign fighters amid chaos reigning there,
because other countries of origin of these foreign fighters,
such as France and Belgium, as well as Tunisia, Morocco and
Algeria, reject to host them.
Dr. Ali Rebidj
considered that the danger lays in the resurrection of IS in
Libya, as coordination of African intelligence services with
foreign counterparts is vital to thwart this threat.
Algerian FM urged in
Oct. 2017 to strengthen border security measures to stop all
forms of foreign fighters’ movement, as he called on Sahel
countries to set regional and international cooperation in a bid
to develop approaches to address this scourge and block the
attempts to the concentration of these militants in areas that
lack resources and means to fight them.
struggling to secure its borders to prevent the intrusion of
armed groups and the establishment of new terror cells in its
Earlier this month,
a court in Boumerdes province, 60 km eastern Algiers, condemned
three young men, who were arrested in 2017 in the Airport of
Algiers, of attempting to join IS as they were holding false
passport. Two of them were sentenced to three years.
Attempts of young
Algerian men to join IS in Syria is due to weakening of
IS-affiliated group in Algeria, namely “the Caliph Soldiers”
after counterterrorism troops managed to eradicate it in its
cradle in 2014, thanks to the killing of its senior officials,
including Abdelmalek Gouri in Dec. 2014, who was behind the
kidnapping and execution of French tourist, Herve Gourdel, in
Other senior members
of Caliph Soldiers were continuously killed, such as Osman al-Assami
in May 2015, Abu Dujana and his assistant in Oct. 2016, and
Ahmed Houari in March 2017.
political analyst and military expert, Lakhdar Saoud, Algerian
security services have gained considerable experience in the
field of the fight against terrorism in the past 25 years.
Professor Saoud told
Xinhua that the parties that are working to bring in IS to
Algeria are planning to assemble the foreign fighters in the
Sahel region in general, and in Libya in particular, ahead of
forming terrorist groups made of foreign fighters and new local
recruits, in a bid to weaken the state and sow chaos, through
exploiting the current financial crisis hitting the North
Yet, the analyst
stressed that these foreign parties are aware that Algeria is
aware of this plot, and its security services are working to
counter this potential threat.
According to a
report issued in 2017 by the American Center for African
Affairs, Algeria was able to eliminate the organization of
IS-affiliated group in its cradle, but it is still facing the
danger of the remnants of the al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM)
led by Abdelmalek Droukdel, alias Abu Musaab Abdelouadoud, which
is activating particularly in eastern and southern Algeria.
Experts said Africa,
like many other regions of the world, is the target of ongoing
terrorist threat after that this trans-border scourge managed to
“exploit human misery in some areas, and penetrate social media
platforms via Internet to recruit young people in Africa.”
urged African heads of state and government to establish a
coordination mission to prevent and combat terrorism in Africa
under the supervision of the African Union.
Algeria is a
founding member of the Global Counterterrorism Forum, and has
already hosted expert-level meetings in 2016 to discuss topics
related to the role of criminal justice in the fight against