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Armed Islamic Group (GIA)

An Islamic extremist group, the GIA aims to overthrow the secular Algerian regime and replace it with an Islamic state. The GIA began its violent activities in early 1992 after Algiers voided the victory of the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS)--the largest Islamic party--in the first round of December 1991 legislative elections. Its founder, Mansouri Miliani, was arrested for his role in the attack on Algiers airport in August 1992, and executed in May 1993.

GIA conducts frequent attacks against civilians, journalists, and foreign residents. In the last year, the GIA has embarked on a terrorist campaign of civilian massacres, sometimes wiping out entire villages in its area of operations and frequently killing hundreds of civilians. According to officials in 2000, the rate of killins were at 300 a month. Over 630 people were killed in 2002.

Since announcing its terrorist campaign against foreigners living in Algeria in September 1993, the GIA has killed more than 100 expatriate men and women--mostly Europeans--in the country. The GIA uses assassinations and bombings, including car bombs, and it is known to favor kidnapping victims and slitting their throats. The GIA hijacked an Air France flight to Algiers in December 1994, and suspicions centered on the group for a series of bombings in France in 1995.

In 2002, a French court sentenced two GIA members to life in prison for conducting a series of bombings in France in 1995.

The precise number of members of GIA is unknown, but is probably fewer than 100.

GIA only operates in Algeria.

Algerian expatriates and GIA members abroad, many of whom reside in Western Europe, provide some financial and logistic support. In addition, the Algerian Government has accused Iran and Sudan of supporting Algerian extremists and severed diplomatic relations with Iran in March 1993.




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