Middle East


Militant’s Murder

Evidence that Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) leader Abdel Kader Hachani had complained to Algerian authorities about harassment and surveillance by security agents in the weeks leading up to his assassination has heightened suspicion that shadowy military and security factions were behind his murder, reports the Saudi-owned Al-Hayat of London (Nov. 24). Hachani, a moderate leader of the banned FIS, was shot in the head as he sat in his dentist’s waiting room in Algiers on Nov. 22.

In an Oct. 28 letter to Interior Minister Abdelmalek Sellal, a copy of which was obtained by Al-Hayat, Hachani said he was summoned to the Algiers Governorate headquarters on Oct. 13 and questioned for five hours by security officers about his views on recent political developments in Algeria. He also described a strange encounter in July 1998 with a man identifying himself as Naim, who said he had come at the behest of someone named
Abu Faisel.

According to Al-Hayat, Naim showed up at Hachani’s home on Oct. 13, 1999, questioning relatives and neighbors about the FIS leader’s movements. Hachani said that he saw Naim exiting security forces headquarters in his neighborhood of Bab al-Oued a few days later.

Although Al-Hayat reports that Hachani’s family received a claim of responsibility for the assassination from the militant Armed Islamic Group (GIA), commentators such as Fahmy Howeidi, writing in Egypt’s semi-official Al-Ahram in late November, argue that shadowy elements within the regime opposed to peace were behind the hit. According to Howeidi, the murder is a direct attack against President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s efforts toward national reconciliation and an end to the political violence that has plagued the country for seven years.

In mid-December, authorities announced the arrest of Fouad Boulemia in the slaying. Algerian newspapers reported that Boulemia belonged to the GIA, which sent him to murder Hachani.