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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Foreign Fightersof AQIM may be Disolusioned

ALGIERS, Aug 15 (Reuters) - Dozens of foreigners who joined al Qaeda's Algeria-based north Africa wing have been leaving because they are disillusioned, a recent deserter from the group said in remarks published on Wednesday.

Benmessaoud Abdelkader gave himself up last month after disagreements with other leaders of the Al Qaeda Organisation in the Islamic Maghreb, which claimed responsibility for a triple suicide bombing that killed 33 people in Algiers on April 11.

El Watan newspaper quoted Benmessaoud as saying about 50 foreign recruits had joined the group, but many had either left already or now sought to leave.

"Most of those who operated in the Sahara have gone back home after discovering that the situation they had hoped for was just a delusion," El Watan said.

Liberte newspaper quoted him as saying "The rare foreign recruits are still present in Algeria because they do not have another choice, or did not find the means yet of regaining their countries of origin."

Benmessaoud spoke at a news conference for local media. The papers did not say where it was held.

The group, previously known as the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), swore allegiance to al Qaeda last year. Last month it said it was planning a violent campaign against "infidels" and government forces in the Maghreb region.

Benmessaoud said he did not believe in the group's fight and that the movement's leader, Abdelmalek Droudkel, had not consulted militants over the decision to align the group with al Qaeda.
"They are doing the opposite of what Islam advocates," he added, mentioning suicide bombings and racketeering. "Resorting to suicide attacks and explosives is the strategy of organisations at bay."

"The situation in Iraq and Afghanistan is different from that prevailing in Algeria. In those countries, there is an occupation, which is not the case for our country," he added.
Founded in 1998, the GSPC began as an offshoot of another group waging an armed revolt to establish an Islamic state.

That uprising began in 1992 after the army-backed authorities, fearing an Iran-style revolution, scrapped a parliamentary election that an Islamist party was set to win. Up to 200,000 people were killed in the ensuing bloodshed.

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