The northwest African radical
Moslem terrorist movement, the GSPC (Groupe Salafiste pour la Predication et le
Combat) tried hard, during the '90s to establish an Islamic regime in Algeria.
But has been pretty much marginalized by effective government anti-terrorism
operations. In what appears to be a pitch to gain prestige and perhaps material
support from international Islamic groups, the GSPC (or "Salafists") proclaimed
themselves "Al Qaeda in the Maghreb." The Salafists are not the first Islamic
group that, finding itself on the ropes, has declared itself an affiliate of Al
Qaeda. Jemaah Islamiyah in Indonesia and Abu Sayyaf in the Philippines have
also boasted of links to Al Qaeda.
Al Qaeda has often provided "seed" money to Islamic
groups, usually with no strings attached
save to use the bucks in the furtherance of Islamic radicalism. And perhaps
Osama bin Laden - or one of his henchmen - lightly blessed the "incorporation"
of the Salafist movement or some of these others into the al Qaeda team. But
it's unlikely they have more than tentative ties to bin Laden and his
organization, which have troubles of their own. Despite their mutual interest
in establishing Islamic rule, the goals, beliefs, cultural norms, and
personalities dominating al Qaeda Central are likely to be different from those
of "Al Qaeda Maghreb" or any of the other Islamic groups. This could provide an
opening to leverage the difference in goals, beliefs, culture, and
personalities leading the individual groups, which may help ultimately defeat
them. In this regard, it's worth recalling that al Qaeda in Iraq, a genuine
affiliate of the bin Laden organization, became so radicalized that it was
several times called to heel by senior al Qaeda leaders. Relations between the
Iraq group and al Qaeda leadership center deteriorated to such an extent that
some analysts believe the death of Abu Musab al Zarqawi, the al Qaeda Iraq
leader, at the hands of Coalition forces, was not unwelcome by Al Qaeda Center.
Indeed, rumors persist that al Qaeda gave up the location of al Zarqawi, so that the Americans could kill
him and create another al Qaeda martyr, and get rid of an al Qaeda leader that
had become a counterproductive rouge.