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Jund Al-Khilafa [Algeria]
Caliphate Soldiers in Algeria

A new armed group calling itself the Caliphate Soldiers in Algeria split from al Qaeda's North African branch in September 2014 and swore loyalty to the Islamic State fighting in Syria and Iraq. A breakaway of key Algerian commanders from Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, known as AQIM, showed deepening rivalry between al Qaeda's core command and the Islamic State over leadership of transnational Islamist militancy.

In a communique, AQIM central region commander Khaled Abu Suleimane, whose real name is Gouri Abdelmalek, claimed leadership of the new group, joined by an AQIM commander of an eastern region in Algeria, where the al Qaeda wing has its base. "You have in the Islamic Maghreb men if you order them they will obey you," Suleimane said in reference to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State. "The Maghreb has deviated from the true path."

This outfit should not be confused with the unrelated Jund al-Khilafah (Soldiers of the Caliphate, JAK) that Kazakhstan’s Office of the Prosecutor-General claimed was formed in mid-2011 by Kazakh citizens Renat Khabibuly, Orynbasarov Unasov, and Damir Nabiyev; was allied with the Taliban; was headquartered in Pakistan’s tribal area; and was dedicated to “waging a jihad on the territory of Kazakhstan.” At the end of November 2011, Kazakhstan banned Jund al-Khilafah as a terrorist organization.

The Algerian army said on 23 December 2014 that it had killed the head of the militant Jund al-Khilafah group, which murdered Frenchman Herve Gourdel in late September and posted a video of the beheading online. The body of the group's chief, Abdelmalek Gouri, was identified after an operation late on Monday east of the capital, Algiers, in which two other militants were also killed, the army said. The group killed Gourdel, a 55-year-old mountain guide who had been hiking in a national park when he was kidnapped, after the French government rejected its demands to halt airstrikes against "Islamic State" (IS) militants in Iraq.

At least 22 militants linked to Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) have been killed by Algerian troops in a surprise attack 20 May 2015, according to the Defense Ministry and security sources. The militants were attending a meeting east of the capital, Algiers, near Bouira during the ambush, state news agency APS cited the ministry’s statement. The region is known as the militants’ stronghold. The operation has been labeled as one of the largest in recent history.

“This is a major counter-terrorism operation, the largest in terms of militants killed in years,” a security source told Reuters. According to the source, it targeted members of the Caliphate Soldiers, which is an Al-Qaeda offshoot that have sworn allegiance to IS. Algerian army is still in pursuit of some of the members of the group.

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Page last modified: 21-05-2015 19:40:35 ZULU