- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 7, 2004

ALGERIA

Bomb maker heads Salafist terrorists

ALGIERS — A university student skilled in bomb making has taken charge of Algeria’s largest Islamic rebel movement, but the al Qaeda-linked group is fighting for survival as the army pounds its hide-outs and members surrender.

The Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), which seeks a pure Islamic state in the Maghreb, made headlines last year by kidnapping dozens of European tourists and reportedly obtained $6 million in ransom.

After more than a decade of holy war resulting in more than 150,000 deaths, the GSPC is the last powerful rebel force, operating with a few hundred armed members, in Muslim Algeria. It said in a statement to Reuters Monday that Abdelmalek Droukdel, thought to have been killed, has been made chief. The group’s leaders apart from Droukdel, 33, have been killed or captured.

“He’s the last senior terrorist to have the stature to salvage the GSPC,” said Mounir Boudjema, editor at the influential daily Le Quotidien d’Oran. “He is faithful to Sahraoui’s philosophy and a member of al Qaeda.”

SAUDI ARABIA

Teachers advised to avoid stoking hate

RIYADH — As youngsters prepare to return to school on Saturday, the kingdom is moving to reform its education system, dogged by Western claims that it fuels extremism and incites hatred of other religions.

Crown Prince Abdullah told educators this week to avoid promoting extremist concepts within a school system that has come under fire, particularly from Washington, for stoking the fervor that led to the September 11, 2001, attacks in the United States. Fifteen of the 19 al Qaeda suicide hijackers were Saudis.

“The first thing [teachers should do] is serve religion and the homeland, nothing else — neither serving terrorism nor external principles that come to us and which we don’t accept,” Abdullah told education officials. He urged teachers to stick to teaching the Koran and the Sunna — the prophet Muhammad’s deeds and sayings — and avoid interpretations that lead to “unwanted consequences.”

Weekly notes

Iran said yesterday it is ready to test its improved Shahab-3 medium-range missile before observers to prove it is a success, Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani said in a statement carried by the official Islamic Republic News Agency. The admiral appeared to be reacting to foreign press reports that questioned whether an Aug. 11 test had been a failure, because it was apparently remotely detonated in midflight. … Yemen’s ruling People’s Congress Party accused the opposition Yemeni Socialist Party yesterday of backing anti-U.S. cleric Hussein Badreddine al-Houhty. It accused the YSP of supporting Mr. al-Houhty in his 1994 opposition of reuniting North and South Yemen. The YSP was the ruling party in South Yemen before reunification.

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