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Al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb: A "Glocal" Organization

NCJ Number
Studies in Conflict and Terrorism Volume: 31 Issue: 6 Dated: June 2008 Pages: 541-552
Jean-Luc Marret
Date Published
June 2008
12 pages
This article examines the dual nature of the terrorist group al Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb, formally known as Groupe Salatiste pour la predication et le combat--GSPC (Algerian Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat) mixing local and global, traditional and imported practices, and high- and low-tech technologies.
The GSPC/al Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb now claims to be a self-proclaimed pragmatic umbrella organization on both sides of the Mediterranean Sea. Its own use of violence is based on traditional historical, geographical, and cultural reasons. But mixing old and new, local and global, the group is certainly at a turning point. For these reasons, it may be considered as a “glocal” group, a hybrid structure that weds both the local specifics and goals, to create a Maghrebian caliphate, and global operational methods. In the point of view of the comprehension of jihadi groups, this approach of both local and global has in all cases numerous advantages: this permits one to avoid the syndrome of labeling what are often local and specific attacks as simply “al Qaeda.” On the other hand, it also refocuses on the specificity of local violence and individuals. This “glocal” approach may deserve to examine other jihad groups. Observers have highlighted the transformation of the Algerian Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (known by its French name, Groupe Salatiste pour la predication et le combat--GSPC) into al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb. Although research has concluded that the al Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb is a manifestation of the continuing strength of Osama bin Laden’s global organization, it current research on terrorist groups has sometimes neglected to analyze this double phenomenon of global and local roots. With an assessment of the recent violence in Algeria, this article demonstrates that GSPC/al Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb is a good example of this dual nature. 53 notes