Hassan Hattab

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Hassan Hattab

Hassan Hattab (Aka Abu Hamza; born 14 January 1967) is the founder and first leader of the Algerian Islamist rebel group Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC).

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Rouiba on 14 January 1967, Hattab received religious education in his howntown.[1] Later he was trained as a paratrooper in his national service in the Algerian army,[2] in the course of which he met his future lieutenants Amari Saïfi and Abbi Abdelaziz. After leaving the army in 1989, he became a mechanic. He joined the most radical of the Islamist guerrilla movements, the Armed Islamic Group (GIA), after the cancellation of the 1992 elections. In 1994, he became "amir", or chief, in charge of what it called the "second zone" (Kabylie and the eastern part of the capital).[3] As such, he notably was the signer of the document announcing that the GIA had assassinated the anti-religious Kabyle singer Lounes Matoub.

GSPC[edit]

Hattab left the GIA in 1996, rejecting its takfirist policy of massacring Algerian civilians en masse and accusing it of being infiltrated by the Algerian secret services. Then he formed his group, the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), the same year.[4] However, there is another report giving the year of faoundation as 1998.[5] In April 1999, GSPC issued its first communiqué where Hattab announced that the Algerian government was his enemy, whereas the community of Muslims in Algeria was not the target of the GSPC.[6] The main objective of the GSPC, like the GIA, was to establish an Islamic state in Algeria, rejecting the current secular government.[5]

The GSPC was mainly active in the east of the country, notably in the forests of western Kabylie such as Mizrana, Boumehni, Sidi Ali Bounab, and Takhoukht. However, the group was largely in active from 1999 to 2003.[6] And Hattab rejected to swear allegiance to Al Qaeda.[6] It soon eclipsed the GIA as the latter was torn apart by internal purges and army victories. He lost his leadership position and on 23 October 2003, Nabil Sahraoui had taken over the group. This was a result of Hattab's view that reconciliation with the government should be encouraged.[7] A "repentant" ex-member reported that he was killed by his own organization in summer 2003.[8] However, his successor, the then GSPC leader Sahraoubi reported that Hattab resigned "of his own accord".[9]

On 9 February 2005, the GSPC announced that it had excluded him entirely from the group and saw him as a "stranger to jihad" and a "suppliant before tyranny", according to El Watan, thus further suggesting that previous rumors of his death might have been exaggerated.[10] In March, he was reported to have called for the GSPC to end their fight.[11]

Surrender[edit]

On 22 March 2007, Agence France Presse reported that Hassan Hattab was under a death sentence in Algeria.[12] On 5 October 2007, the then Algerian minister of interior Noureddine Yazid Zerhouni confirmed that Hattab had surrendered on 22 September.[13] However, Hattab did not attend the court and the reports of the minister were proved to be false.[3] In March 2011, the justice minister Tayeb Belaiz stated that Hassan Hattab had been put in a safe place, whereas Abderezzak El Para had been imprisoned.[14]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Hassan Hattab, "I have been forced to join the armed activities ..."". Ennahar. 15 March 2009. Retrieved 21 January 2013. 
  2. ^ Smith, Gregory A. "Al-Qaeda in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb". Journal of Strategic Security: 53–72. Retrieved 21 January 2013. 
  3. ^ a b "What Happened to Hassan Hattab and Amari Saïfi (alias Abderrezak El Para)?". Algeria Watch. 20 December 2008. Retrieved 21 January 2013. 
  4. ^ Johnson, Thomas H. (November 2006). "Analyses of the Groupe Salafiste pour la Prédication et le Combat (GSPC)". Strategic Insights 8. Retrieved 21 January 2013. 
  5. ^ a b Kennedy Boudali, Lianne (April 2007). "The GSPC: Newest Franchise in al-Qa’ida’s Global Jihad". DTIC. Retrieved 23 January 2013. 
  6. ^ a b c Gray, David H.; Erik Stockham (December 2008). "Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb: the evolution from Algerian Islamism to transnational terror". African Journal of Political Science and International Relations 2 (4): 91–97. Retrieved 21 January 2013. 
  7. ^ Tawil, Camille (27 July 2009). "New Strategies in al-Qaeda’s Battle for Algeria". Terrorism Monitor 7 (22). Retrieved 21 January 2013. 
  8. ^ Hassan Hattab a été exécuté par ses lieutenants, l'Expression, 11 May 2004
  9. ^ "Algerian Islamist GSPC leader Nabil Sahraoui profiled". Asia Africa Intelligence Wire. 28 May 2004. Retrieved 23 January 2013. 
  10. ^ Hassan Hattab exclu du GSPC, Algeria-Watch, 13 February 2005
  11. ^ Hattab calls for dropping weapons, Arabic News, 17 March 2005
  12. ^ Algeria Fights New Surge of Extremist Violence, Arab News, 22 March 2007
  13. ^ "Top Algerian militant surrenders", BBC News, 5 October 2007.
  14. ^ "Former leader of the GSPC, Hassan Hattab, placed in a safe place". Ennahar (Algiers). 9 March 2011. Retrieved 21 January 2013.