On the domestic front, this week’s e main news, which has largely been unreported in the media, has been on how the regime has been trying to distract attention from Guermit Bounouira’s video revelations about the criminality of the Chief of Army Staff, General Saïd Chengriha, and other senior army generals (Algeria Politics & Security – 18.01.22).
The military and other security authorities have kept very silent about the scandal over the past week. The regime has gone to noticeable efforts to divert public attention from Bounouira’s video recordings by giving extensive media coverage to another scandal involving overseas Algerian students being defrauded.
On 18 January, President Abdelmajid Tebboune — in his capacity as Chief of the Armed Forces and Minister of Defence — visited the Ministry of Defence headquarters. With Bounouira’s videos in the minds of all those present, Tebboune’s visit suggests a closing of ranks between the many army factions, and between the entire high command and the Presidency. Both the highly symbolic visit and the nature of the speeches suggests that Tebboune, far from taking action against Chengriha and other generals implicated by Bounouira, is giving his support to the army.
Beneath all the nationalistic rhetoric of Chengriha’s speech, was the hint of strong action to come. With implicit reference to the videos and those, such as Mohamed Larbi Zitout, who assisted in their publication, Chengriha said: ‘These macabre designs and propaganda campaigns will be doomed to total failure, as long as there are men devoted to the fatherland and faithful to their commitment. … the enemies of Algeria will never succeed in achieving their abject ends’.
We believe that one reason for this apparent closing of ranks is that the regime is now planning to eliminate these so-called ‘enemies of Algeria.’ As we go to press, we are receiving information that the regime is planning to re-activate its death squads to kill, or more likely, kidnap their opponents in Europe. Our information is currently scanty but we hope to have more details next week. At this stage, we understand that the three key names involved are:
- Lotfi Nezzar — the son of former Defence Minister Khaled Nezzar — who lives in Barcelona;
- Abdelkader Tigha, who lives in the Belgian city of Liege and who wrote a book on the Dirty War of the 1990s (Contre-espionnage algerien: Notre guerre contre les islamistes (2008)); and
- a third man, who we only know as Jehid or Djehid who lives in Paris.
All three fled Algeria: Tigha and Jehid in or around 2000; Lotfi and his father more recently, although the latter has now been reinstated and is once again working closely with the regime and its intelligence services.
The French, Spanish and Belgium authorities are aware of these men. However, it is a matter of speculation whether they will intervene or to assist them as the Spanish authorities did in the case of Mohamed Abdellah (Algeria Politics & Security – 24.08.21). The purpose of resorting to these so-called death squads is — as we have been suggesting over the last few months might be conceivable — a desperate effort to eliminate once and for all the regime’s most important and vociferous overseas opponents.
Lotfi Nezzar, who is being instructed by his father, contacted Tigha and Jehid. We understand that the latter is the main operative and that he is now effectively working for the regime’s Direction de la documentation et de la sécurité extérieure (DDSE) external security service. We suspect, however, that he may be working directly for General M’henna Djebbar, the former head of the Direction Centrale de la Sécurité de l’Armée, who has also been reinstated and now heads up the newly created Direction générale de la lutte contre la subversion (DGLS) (see Security).
Their primary target is the journalist Hichem Aboud. This is because he has long been writing about the Nezzar family and exposing Khaled Nezzar’s many crimes, including accusing him of murdering his first wife. Nezzar is now using his reinstatement to have Aboud eliminated.
We also understand that the Rachad Movement’s Mohamed Larbi Zitout is also high on the list. Algeria Politics & Security – 18.01.22 reported that Zitout was largely responsible in arranging the publication of Bounouira’s videos on the social media, and we suspect that the regime’s decision to resort to its death squads may have been triggered by the leakage and publication of these revelations.This excerpt is taken from Algeria Politics & Security, our weekly intelligence report on Algeria. Click here to receive a free sample copy.