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Hassan Hattab


Hassan Hattab (born January 14, 1967) is the founder and first leader of the Algerianmarker Islamist rebel group Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC).

Born in Rouibamarker, he trained as a paratrooper in his national service, in the course of which he met his future lieutenants Amari Saïfi and Abbi Abdelaziz. After leaving the army in 1989, he became a mechanic. He joined the most radical of the Islamist guerrilla movements, the Armed Islamic Group (GIA), after the cancellation of the 1992 elections. In 1994, he became "amir", or chief, in charge of what it called the "second zone", the Kabyliemarker region. As such, he notably was the signer of the document announcing that the GIA had assassinated the anti-religious Kabyle singer Lounes Matoub.

He broke with the GIA on September 14, 1998, rejecting its takfirist policy of massacring Algerian civilians en masse and accusing it of being infiltrated by the Algerian secret services. His group, the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, was mainly active in the east of the country, notably in the forests of western Kabylie such as Mizrana, Boumehni, Sidi Ali Bounab, and Takhoukht. It soon eclipsed the GIA as the latter was torn apart by internal purges and army victories. However, at some point after 2001 he lost his leadership position; by October 23, 2003, Nabil Sahraoui had taken over the group.

A "repentant" ex-member reported that he was killed by his own organization in summer 2003. However, the GSPC itself claims that he simply resigned. In 2004, the international Arab newspaper al-Hayat al-Jadida published an interview with Hattab after the death of his GSPC successor Nabil Sahraoui, where he claimed to be the legitimate leader of the organization.

On February 9, 2005, the GSPC announced that it had excluded him entirely from the group and saw him as a "stranger to jihad" and a "suppliant before tyranny", according to El Watan, thus further suggesting that previous rumors of his death might have been exaggerated. In March, he was reported to have called for the GSPC to end their fight.

On 22 March 2007, Agence France Presse reported that Hassan Hattab is now under a death sentence in Algeria.

On 5 October 2007, Algerian Minister of the Interior Noureddine Yazid Zerhouni confirmed that Hattab had surrendered on 22 September.

Notes

  1. Hassan Hattab a été exécuté par ses lieutenants, l'Expression, 11 May 2004
  2. Interview with al-Faath magazine, 31 January 2005
  3. Jamestown Foundation on the al-Hayat interview, 14 November 2005
  4. Hassan Hattab exclu du GSPC, Algeria-Watch, 13 February 2005
  5. Hattab calls for dropping weapons, Arabic News, 17 March 2005
  6. Algeria Fights New Surge of Extremist Violence, Arab News, 22 March 2007
  7. "Top Algerian militant surrenders", BBC News, October 5, 2007.



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