Algeria: Beheaded monks victims of plot by military - Independent, UK
- Beheaded monks victims of plot by military
By John Lichfield in Paris
24 December 2002
Seven French monks beheaded by "Islamist" terrorists
in Algeria in 1996 were the victims of a plot by the
Algerian military government, the newspaper Libération
said yesterday. In the latest of a series of
allegations on the involvement of the Algerian
military in apparent Islamist crimes, a former
Algerian security officer said the Trappist monks were
kidnapped in March 1996 by a terror group that was
controlled by the army.
The intention was to remove the monks from a sensitive
area and to persuade the French government to support
the Algerian regime in its fight against Islamic
fundamentalist "terrorism", Abdelkadr Tigha told the
He said fellow agents kidnapped the monks from their
monastery at Tiberhirine, near Medea, south-west of
Algiers, and handed them to a double agent in the
hardline Armed Islamic Group (GIA). The GIA admitted
it had murdered the monks after the French and
Algerian governments refused to negotiate.
Mr Tigha was a brigadier in the Algerian military
security service, the Departément du Renseignement et
Securité, at the height of the so-called dirty war in
Algeria in 1993-97, when hundreds of people, including
117 foreigners, were murdered by terrorists claiming
to belong to the GIA.
In December 1999, Mr Tigha fled from Algeria and is in
prison in Thailand, accused of overstaying his visa.
In an interview given to Libération in prison, Mr
Tigha said at least some of the groups acting in the
name of fundamentalist Islam in Algeria in the
Nineties were formed or controlled by the army, which
wished to discredit the Islamists and encourage an
atmosphere of terror.
Similar allegations have been made by other Algerian
former military or intelligence officers. During a
trial in Paris in July, a former colonel, Mohamed
Samraoui, said that "beyond a certain point" the
Algerian military had "lost control of the groups we
had created or infiltrated. We didn't know which
groups were which any more, whether they were ours or
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