Stratfor has released a breaking intelligence report indicating that GSPC, which recently swore allegiance to al-Qaeda, has been instructed to form a unified command with Morocco's Islamic Combatant Group, Libya's Islamic Fighting Group and several Tunisian groups, most notably the Tunisian Combatant Group. The new organization reportedly will be called The Union of the Arab Maghreb. Spanish newspaper El Periodico cited Spanish anti-terrorism intelligence sources in their report of this intelligence, who said the information regarding the creation of the new unified network was derived from a plan Moroccan police discovered in one of several raids over the summer.
The al-Qaeda concept of creating a unified group of "Qaedat al-Jihad in the Arab Maghreb Countries" is not new. Moroccan authorities discovered plans for such a union in late 2005, when raids targeting several suspected militants turned up messages sent by leaders in the region to Osama bin Laden. In those messages, leaders reportedly discussed a plan for the GSPC to officially join al-Qaeda and then unite jihadists in the Maghreb countries -- in many ways conforming to the pattern established by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who united jihadists in Jordan and Iraq. Significantly, the GSPC effort would also strive to unite North African militants living in Europe into a cohesive paramilitary entity.
El Periodico's report would seem to confirm that plans for the pan-Maghreb merger have proceeded. Other signs of traction came from Ayman al-Zawahiri, who said in a September 11, 2006, message that GSPC had joined forces with al-Qaeda in a union he hoped would be "a thorn in the neck of the American and French Crusaders and their allies, and an arrow in the heart of the French traitors and apostates." Al-Zawahiri went on to say, "We ask Allah to help our brothers of the GSPC to hit the foundations of the Crusader alliance, primarily their old leader the infidel United States, praise be on Allah." On September 13, GSPC acknowledged the merger on its Web site with a message from its emir, Abu Musab Abd al-Wadoud, who wrote that, "We have full confidence in the faith, the doctrine, the method and the modes of action of [al-Qaeda's] members, as well as their leaders and religious guides."