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Terrorist Organizations and Other Groups of Concern

Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC)

Updated August 24, 2007

From: "Chapter 8; Foreign Terrorist Organizations," Country Reports on Terrorism 2005, US Department of State, April 30, 2006.

a.k.a. Le Groupe Salafiste pour la Predication et le Combat;
Salafist Group for Call and Combat

Description
The Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), a splinter group of the Armed Islamic Group (GIA), seeks to overthrow the Algerian Government with the goal of installing an Islamic regime. GSPC eclipsed the GIA arround 1998, and is currently the most effective and largest armed group inside Algeria. In contrast to the GIA, the GSPC pledged to avoid civilian attacks inside Algeria.

Activities
The GSPC continues to conduct operations aimed at government and military targets, primarily in rural areas, although civilians are sometimes killed. In 2005, GSPC claimed responsibility for an attack on a remote Mauritanian military outpost, killing 15, and indicating a possible shift in GSPC strategy toward a more global war beyond Algerian borders. Police in France, Italy and Spain arrested several Algerians suspected of providing support to GSPC, and French officials announced that the GSPC had issued an Internet call-to-action against France, declaring France "public enemy number one." The Government of Algeria scored major counterterrorism successes against GSPC in 2004, killing GSPC leader Nabil Sahraoui and separately taking custody of Abderazak al-Para, who led a GSPC faction that held 32 European tourists hostage in 2003. According to press reporting, some GSPC members in Europe and the Middle East maintain contact with other North African extremists sympathetic to al-Qaida. In late 2003, the GSPC leader issued a communiqué announcing the group's support of a number of terrorist causes and movements, including al-Qaida.

Strength
Several hundred fighters with an unknown number of facilitators outside Algeria.

Location/Area of Operation
Algeria, the Sahel, Canada, and Western Europe.

External Aid
Algerian expatriates and GSPC members abroad, many residing in Western Europe, provide financial and logistical support. GSPC members also engage in criminal activity.