Al-Qaeda In The Islamic Maghreb Releases Interview Spotlighting Algerian Operative To Encourage Jihad Among Country's Youth

May 10, 2022

The following report is now a complimentary offering from MEMRI's Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor (JTTM). For JTTM subscription information, click here. 

On May 9, 2022, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) released a long-form interview with one of its operatives, who earlier in 2022 called on Algerian youth to wage jihad against the country's rulers.

Produced by the Al-Andalus Foundation, AQIM's media arm, the 41-minute interview featured a lengthy question-and-answer segment with the operative, alongside excerpts of speeches by slain Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden and senior AQIM operative Abu Yassir Al-Jaza'iri. The video opened with Bin Laden's 2001 remarks addressing the "brothers in Palestine," as is common with Al-Qaeda productions. This was followed by the audio recording of Al-Jaza'iri, and then by the video's feature interview.

Title banner for Al-Andalus Foundation's interview with an Algerian operative, released on May 9, 2022.

In the introduction, Al-Jaza'iri described "international media warfare and its local proxies" as being particularly dangerous at this time, especially as it aims to isolate the Islamic community, or ummah, from the mujahideen in Algeria by portraying them as "terrorists" and "criminals." However, the senior AQIM operative offered a counterexample: The Algerian operative, whom he praised as the "knight of tawheed [oneness]" and the "hope of the ummah," should serve as a model for Algerian youth and encourage them to join the ranks of the mujahideen.

This is the second AQIM media production in which the Algerian operative has featured prominently. The first, released in February 2022, showed the operative encouraging young men from Algeria's Zemmouri region, from which he hails, to take up arms against the country's government, which he described as "tyrants" who do not impose shar'ia law, are antithetical to Islam, and abide by the international law of the unbelievers.[1] The man's back-to-back appearances in AQIM productions, coupled with his feature interview and Al-Jaza'iri's appraisal of him, suggest that AQIM is aiming to elevate him to a higher position within the group.

The Algerian Operative: Background

By his own account, the operative was born in 1994 in the Zemmouri region of Algeria's Boumerdes Province, where he attended both primary and secondary school. After graduating, he spent a "few years" living a contemporary life before he and several "brothers from the neighborhood" joined the mujahideen in the Algerian mountains.

The Operative Idealizes Life Of Mujahideen

In the operative's long-form interview, he discussed themes similar to those in his February video. After briefly recounting his personal history, he described how the oppressive conditions under which Algerian Muslims have lived – which he attributed to their straying from the path of Allah and to the influence of external actors in the country – drove him to join the mujahideen.

When prompted to identify differences between the lives of the mujahideen and the lives of everyday Algerians, he expressed no regret. Rather, he noted that "the differences are enormous and widespread, like the difference between the sky and the earth [...] We cannot distinguish at all between the life of oppression that the people of Algeria live today and a life living in the military camps of men [among the mujahideen]."

Central to the operative's idealized portrayal of mujahideen life is its rejection of secularism and modernism: "We were living during our high school years with mixing of the sexes, drinking alcohol, there was usury [...] life [with the mujahideen] is very different and it suffices for us that the apostates say, 'we are secularists, we separate religion from the state.' So, we will fight them until the law and religion, and everything is for Allah, and nothing is left for the secularists, the communists, the military, the democrats, or the rulers of ignorance," he proclaimed.

The fighter also passionately denied that the mujahideen are terrorists. "Who are the terrorists?" he rhetorically asked, before arguing that those who fight for the "tyrants" are the terrorists, not the mujahideen: "The terrorists are well-known. By Allah, the terrorists are America, Russia, and the apostates," he said. Addressing Algerians, the fighter further noted that the mujahideen will fight "until Muslims raise their heads, and do not bury them in the ground [...] until Muslims live proudly and freely in accordance with the sayings of Allah and the Prophet Muhammad."

The Operative Encourages Recruitment

In romanticizing the lives of the mujahideen, the fighter doubtless sought to encourage recruitment. His appeal to young Algerians, especially from his home region of Zemmouri, centered on rebuking the secular and foreign-backed forces who oppress them and other Muslims, especially Palestinians, to whom he referred in rallying cries throughout the interview: "Whoever wants to liberate Palestine, writing on Facebook, [posting] slogans of Palestine on Facebook, and lifting the flag of Palestine [is not enough]. No, Palestine needs blood," he asserted.

For those who have already joined the ranks of jihad, the operative offered parting advice toward the conclusion of the interview: "Patience is patience and perseverance is perseverance," he said, imploring the mujahideen to follow the examples of slain operatives such as Abu Mus'ab Abd al-Wadud, the former leader of AQIM, who was killed in northern Mali in 2020, and Abu Al-Hassan Al-Bulaydi, a former AQIM shari'a official killed in 2015 by Algerian forces.

Slain AQIM leader Abu Mus'ab Abd Al-Wadud (top right) during an interview with the Algerian operative on May 9, 2022.

Slain AQIM shari'a official Abu Al-Hassan Al-Bulaydi (middle of inset photo) during an interview with the operative on May 9, 2022.


The full text of this post is available to subscribers.

Please login or register to request subscription information from MEMRI


The Cyber & Jihad Lab

The Cyber & Jihad Lab monitors, tracks, translates, researches, and analyzes cyber jihad originating from the Middle East, Iran, South Asia, and North and West Africa. It innovates and experiments with possible solutions for stopping cyber jihad, advancing legislation and initiatives federally – including with Capitol Hill and attorneys-general – and on the state level, to draft and enforce measures that will serve as precedents for further action. It works with leaders in business, law enforcement, academia, and families of terror victims to craft and support efforts and solutions to combat cyber jihad, and recruits, and works with technology industry leaders to craft and support efforts and solutions.

Read More