Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 09/2009

Is the Maghreb the 'Next Afghanistan'?: Mapping the Radicalization of the Algerian Salafi Jihadist Movement

Noureddine Jebnoun

February 2008

Center for Contemporary Arab Studies


On March 4, 2004, General Charles Wald, then-deputy commander for the European
Command (EUCOM), observed that "there has, without a doubt, been some
al-Qaida presence in portions of North Africa. But it isn't like Afghanistan or other
places, and what's more, Pakistan, for that matter." On March 10, 2005, Rep. Edward R.
Royce (R-California), chairman of the House Subcommittee on International Terrorism
and Nonproliferation, mentioned in a prepared statement that the "train and equip efforts
[undertaken by the Trans-Sahara Counter Terrorism Partnership (TSCTP)] are aimed at
eliminating the ‘next Afghanistan': another terrorist sanctuary" across the Sahara-Sahel
region, which allegedly harbors Islamic militants and bin Laden sympathizers. More recently,
Rep. Jane Harman (D-California) argued that "North Africa could be the next front
in [the] war on terror."