Sunday, March 06, 2005

Algeria - Is the military behind the terror?

"The Dirty War: The testimony of a former officer of the special forces of the Algerian army, 1992-2000", by Habib Souaidia.

More than 150,000 Algerians have been slaughtered in recent years.

"My name is Habib Souaidia" writes the author of The Dirty War. "I served as an officer in the special forces of the Algerian Army... I have seen my colleagues set fire to a boy of 15, who burned like a living torch.

"I have seen soldiers slaughtering civilians and blaming 'the terrorists.'

"I have seen senior officers murdering in cold blood simple people who were suspected of Islamic activities. I have seen officers torturing Islamic activists to death. I have seen too many things. I cannot remain silent. These are sufficient reasons for breaking my silence."

Habib Souaidia's book is the first to expose the part the army has played in the terror.

In October 1988, demonstrations took place in Algiers.

500 young demonstrators were killed army bullets.

The Islamic Salvation Front was set up in March 1989.

Many people were tired of the corruption of the Algerian National Liberation Front (FLN), which had ruled the country since it won its independence from France.

The FIS won support from many of the poor and performed well in local elections.

The army did not want the Islamists to take over.

In 1992 the FIS won victory in the first round of the general election.

The army stepped in to cancel the elections.

The terror beagan; both sides were apparently involved.

Habib Souaidia relates the part the army played in the terror.

"It happened one night in March, 1993," he writes. "After I finished my shift I was summoned to my commanding officer, Major Daoud. He ordered me to take my people to guard a truck on its way to one of the villages. I went outside and I saw the truck. I peeked inside and saw the silhouettes of dozens of commando fighters from one of the special units. They were carrying knives and grenades. I was told that they were on their way to a 'special mission.'

"I drove behind the truck until it stopped in the village of Dawar Azatariya where the inhabitants were suspected of supporting the FIS movement. I was asked to remain with my men outside the village. Two hours later the truck came back. One of the officers took a blood-stained knife that he held near his throat, making a sweeping side to side motion. I didn't need any additional signs to understand what had happened in the village. Two days later there were headlines in the Algerian press: 'Islamic attack in Dawar Azatariya. Dozens killed in the massacre.' I couldn't believe my eyes. I felt that I had been an accomplice to a terrible crime."

Soldiers arrested a 15-year-old cigarette seller. Lieutenant Abdelhak ordered him to kneel, poured fuel over him, pulled a lighter out of his pocket and set the boy on fire.

Habib: "Thus far more than 150,000 people have been killed, and those responsible for this crime are the generals who head the army. They are fighting to defend their rule and the enormous amount of property they have accumulated."


British army terror in KENYA

"By October 1953 Kenya was one vast prison camp: over 138,000 had been arrested. Over 70,000 were held in 39 concentration camps. By 1954 over 350 POWs had been murdered. In the course of the war more than 30,000 people were murdered, 1,065 judicially murdered and 100,000 uprooted."

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