What is the GIA? 375
the Selous Scouts, active in the Rhodesian war (1972-1979). These were cho-sen because, as will become clear, both these groups and the events in whichthey were involved are of direct relevance to the men who are currently run-ning the counter-insurgency campaign in Algeria. Section 4.3 presents thefirst argument, which consists of showing that the GIA manifests the institu-tional attributes of a counter-guerrilla force. In section 4.4 a second argu-ment demonstrates that the functional identity of the GIA is to implementthe strategic principles of counter-insurgency warfare. Section 4.5 discussesthe explanatory value and testability of this hypothesis. Two alternative hypotheses about the GIA's identity are studied in sec-tion 5. Section 5.1 looks at the Islamist claim that the GIA is an (infiltrated)Kharidjite sect while section 5.2 deals with the thesis that it is an anti-socialmovement.Section 6 summarises the main points of this study.
2. The Received View and its Sceptics
The widely disseminated and accepted view outside Algeria is that the GIAis
what the acronym stands for
an Islamic insurgent organisation. The Algerian government and media say the GIA is a ‘terrorist organisa-tion’, a ‘fundamentalist organisation’ which seeks the destruction of ‘the Al-gerian State and Nation’ using armed terror. Foreign affairs minister Attaf and president of the Senate Boumaza often refer to it as ‘a fanatical terroristorganisation’
, and prime-minister Ouyahia asserts that it is made up of ‘reli-gious cranks who pretend they are purifying Algeria.’
Ex-prime ministerMalek affirms it has ‘a central command – a national emir – who defines thepolicies, and is largely made up of intensively indoctrinated Islamists but alsocomprises hooligans acting for their private interests.’
claims itis an ‘Islamist terrorist’ entity, with a strength of ‘1300 to 2000 men’ organ-ised in ‘a loose structure in which various groups operate with a large auton-omy.’
Another officer of the Algerian army says:
The GIA is the youngest terror group in Algeria. Their logic is perverted to thepoint where killing is not a crime. We are talking about very young men who havehad nothing in their lives but hardship and poverty, then suddenly they are offered warmth and hospitality by GIA teachers. Slowly, they are steeped in a new religiousdoctrine. Psychologically, their interpretation of God becomes an absolute in theirlives. They are told to kill those who are not with them in their beliefs and absolvethemselves from responsibility because they believe it is not their will to kill, but the will of God. We have taken prisoners who genuinely believe that in killing a childthey become closer to God by saving their victim’s soul. It is a travesty of the Is-lamic faith but they are beyond all reason.
A top-officer of the military who spoke anonymously but
of 7 May 1998 said it was thechief of staff, major-general Mohamed Lamari