Armed Islamic Group of Algeria

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Armed Islamic Group of Algeria
Armed Islamic Group of Algeria.jpg
Fullname: Armed Islamic Group of Algeria
Alias: GIA
Origin: Algeria
Foundation: 1993
Commanders: Abdelhak Layada
Goals: Turn Algeria into an Islamic state (failed)
Crimes: War crimes
Mass murder
Terrorism
Kidnapping
Crimes against humanity
Arson
Rape
Mutilation
Hijacking

The Armed Islamic Group of Algeria (GIA, from French: Groupe Islamique Armé; Arabic: الجماعة الإسلامية المسلّحة‎), was one of the two main Islamist insurgents groups that fought the Algerian government and army in the Algerian Civil War.

History

The GIA was created from smaller armed groups following the 1992 military coup and arrest and internment of thousands of officials in the Islamist Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) party after that party won the first round of parliamentary elections in December 1991. It was led by a succession of amirs (commanders) who were killed or arrested one after another.

Unlike the other main armed groups, the Mouvement Islamique Arme (MIA) and later the Islamic Salvation Army (AIS), in its pursuit of an Islamic state the GIA sought not to pressure the government into concessions but to destabilise and overthrow it, to "purge the land of the ungodly". Its slogan inscribed on all communiques was: "no agreement, no truce, no dialogue".

The group desired to create "an atmosphere of general insecurity" and employed kidnapping, assassination, and bombings, including car bombs and targeted not only security forces but civilians. Between 1992 and 1998, the GIA conducted a violent campaign of civilian massacres, sometimes wiping out entire villages in its area of operation, (notably those in Bentalha and Rais). It attacked and killed other Islamists that left the GIA or attempted to negotiate with the government. It also targeted foreign civilians living in Algeria, killing more than 100 expatriate men and women in the country.

The group established a presence outside Algeria, in France, Belgium, Britain, Italy and the United States, and launched terror attacks in France in 1994 and 1995. The "undisputed principal Islamist force" in Algeria in 1994, by 1996, militants were deserting "in droves", alienated by its execution of civilians and Islamists leaders.

In 1999, a government amnesty law motivated large numbers of jihadists to "repent". The remnants of the GIA proper were hunted down over the next two years, leaving a splinter group the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), which announced its support for Al-Qaeda in October 2003.

The GIA was and is considered a terrorist organisation by the governments of Algeria and France. To what extent the group was infiltrated and manipulated by Algerian security services is disputed. The GIA remains a Proscribed Organisation in the United Kingdom under the Terrorism Act 2000.