On the morning of Wednesday, 11 April 2007, terrorists struck Algerian government buildings in the national capital of Algiers with multiple suicide car bombings. A terrorist organization calling themselves “al-Qaeda in the Land of Islamic Maghreb” claimed responsibility for the operation, the first ever suicide attack in Algeria. Media reports have stated that at least 33 were killed by the bombings, with about 220 injured. i
The attack comes not long after al-Qaeda in the Land of Islamic Maghreb (AQLIM), formerly the Salafist Group for Call and Combat (GSPC) announced its merger with the al-Qaeda organization in September 2006. The multiple suicide bombing served two main purposes: it represented a show of strength after the merger, in spite of the ongoing military operations against the group; and a tactical distraction from the concentrated Algerian military effort against the group in the Kabylie region. ii
The merger with al-Qaeda and this latest attack signal a definite change in the group’s strategy as well as the influence of al Qaeda’s ideology on the group’s tactics. The attacks were a show of force by the group which has been speculated to be weakening in strength. Previous attacks have never targeted such prominent government buildings. The event may indicate a new boldness and aggression in committing such attacks.
The attack appeared to be an attempted triple-bombing, but only two car bombs were successfully detonated. There is no consensus on the exact number of bombings, with some media outlets reporting three bombs and some reporting only two.iii An account by the New York Times related that there had been two successful detonations, with a third, unexploded device discovered by authorities after the attack. This account was later supported by some Algerian news reports. iv
Shortly after the attack, AQLIM claimed responsibility for three bombings. They released the names and pictures of the three alleged suicide bombers; Mu’adz bin Jabal, al Zubayr Abu Sajidah, and Abu Dujanah.
In their statement, AQLIM claimed that the first bombing targeted the Algerian Prime Minister’s office, which shares a compound with the Interior Ministry. The second attack targeted Interpol’s office in Algeria, and the third bombing was against the Algerian Special Forces compound.v Algeria reported that the bombers struck the Palais du Gouvernement, which houses the Prime Minister’s office, and a police station in the suburb of Bab Ezzour. vi
The group called the operation “The Battle of Badr.” The battle of Badr was the first expedition conducted by the Prophet Muhammad in the 7th century. A number of terrorist operations have been named after this symbolic battle in which a small force of Muslims defeated a large, well-armed enemy.