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Interview- FIS ex-member Ahmed Merani: Ali Benhadj said Islam prohibits killing of security force members (part 10)

By: Mohamed Yakoubi / English version: M. A.
 

(part 10)

What happened exactly between the GIA and the Djazaara?
There was a man belonging to the Djazaara clan operating with the GIA. When the armed group leader Zitouni discovered him, he was tortured and filmed. The video tape was sold in London. The man said the Djazaara clan had planned to strike the GIA. Because of that, Zitouni ordered to catch all the Djazaara clan’s executives who joined different armed groups.

Do you have details about the killing of Mohamed Said by the GIA?
No, I don’t. I was far from what was happening with armed groups in mountains.

But how did Mohamed Said decide to join the armed groups?
He ran from the police and he was going to hold a press conference. Yet, he found himself in the mountain.

What proves that the FIS was behind the forming of the first armed groups?
The problem is that the FIS commands were not unified neither were they organized after the ban of the electoral process. Because of that, we did not receive any denial from them about violent acts.

But you said the FIS commands incited people to violence during the political strike.
The first who talked about civil disobedience was Said Mekhelfi. The problem is that the FIS did not ask him to withdraw his statements. When he was sued, the party assigned lawyers to defend him. Before that, many statements from the FIS commands including Abbassi urged for violence.
In the June’s events, security forces seized a communiqué in Kamel Ghuemazi’s bag. It was a war declaration. Four leading members of the FIS were sentenced as they had signed it. The FIS commands did not have the courage to wash hands of violence and terrorism. Some of them have never said a word to condemn violence.

But the FIS commands did not claim responsibility for terror acts.
Saudi Arabia funded terrorism to take revenge from Algeria on its position toward the Gulf War.
When policemen were killed, we warned that the FIS will pay the price for that. We said such murders can not be justified neither religiously nor legally. Even if authorities are corrupted, policemen should not be killed.
I remember that I called close persons to Abassi and Benhadj. They contacted them in prison. I told them their silence on violent acts would harm the country and Islam. I think they saw the situation from a different angle. They believed that violent acts were meant to put pressure on authorities to negotiate with them. Abu Djerra Soltani told Ali Djeddi when he was released: “you have to announce your reject to violence and terrorism.” Ali Djeddi answered him: “this is our only means to put pressure.”

What about Ali Benhadj?
Ali Benhadj was questioned in prison about the killing of security forces and the army. He said Muslim policemen must not be killed even if they protected unbelievers. The problem is that Ali Benhadj did not want to issue that as a fatwa. Because of that, his position toward the question was not clear.
The FIS did not announce jihad but its commands did not move to stop violent acts.

But authorities’ wrongdoings touched many members of the FIS even those who were not involved in violence.
When mosques were used to incite people to perpetrate murders and foreigners were caught smuggling arms to some commands of the FIS, authorities committed wrongdoings.

Maybe things were not clear for Abbassi and Benhadj inside prison.
Things were clear because they read all the newspapers in prison and watched TV. Lawyers told them about everything.

Why didn’t talks held between President Zeroual, Abbassi and Benhadj come up with a result?
When Zeroual was appointed as defense minister, he was not responsible for the catastrophe. He thought his impartiality would have played a role. He did his best to solve the crisis. He held talks with them in prison and released many commands. He even released Abbassi and Benhadj.

Why was the dialogue unsuccessful?
Gaddafi gave Rabeh Kebir $3 million to support terrorism.
The FIS command became influential after violence had been controlled by armed groups. Zeroual released many commands to contact armed act commands but it was in vain. One of those commands went to the mountain to contact armed activists and know about their demands. He talked to them but they told him: “we were waiting for you to be our leader.”

So, people in mountains and prisons rejected dialogue.
Yes. A man from the armed groups told me armed act commands received a letter from Ali Benhadj who said he was ready for dialogue. Armed act commands said it looked like that the letter writer was Said Saadi and not Benhadj. That shows that they rejected dialogue.

What were the FIS leading members’ conditions when they held talks with authorities?
They asked for resuming political action.

In return for calling for stopping violence?
I told you violence spread and the FIS commands including Abbassi and Benhadj could not stop it. They were sure no one would listen to their call. Because of that, they preferred to not put themselves in an embarrassing situation.
A friend of Abbassi told me he sent coded messages to authorities saying to them: “leave power and we will not take revenge from you after we take over it.” Maybe, he thought armed acts would have really toppled the regime. Because of that, dialogue was useless and Zeroual announced anticipated presidential elections.

Why didn’t released Boukhemkhem, Djeddi and Guemazi hold talks with groups?
They could not do anything. They were sure that armed groups would take revenge from them if they took positions against armed action. Because of that, they stayed at home while Algerians were killed.

Do you have information about foreign funding of the FIS or the armed groups?
Gaddafi funded armed groups with millions of dollars.

How was that?
It was easy. Libyan businessmen were in charge of that.

Which countries more than Libya funded armed acts?
Saudi Arabia, Iran and many businessmen.

What was their aim?
Gaddafi aimed at creating problems to Algerian authorities. Saudi Arabia wanted to take revenge from the Algerian position toward the Gulf War.

Did that money arrive to Algeria?
Few of it. Most of the money was taken by Kamareddine Kherbane and Rabah Kebir.

Where is Kamereddine Kharbane living now?
He is living in the UK.

What is the story of this man?
He worked as a pilot in the Algerian army in the 1970’s. He was involved with Ben Bella’s groups and had been jailed for 18 months. After his release, he was fired from the army. He went to France, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Then, he entered Algeria and I helped him to join the FIS. When the party was dissolved, he ran away to Germany where he met Rabah Kebir. They founded the so-called the FIS Executive Organization. A conflict was triggered between them after Gaddafi had given $3 million to fund armed groups. They shared the money. Kherbane went to the UK and obtained British nationality.

How did you know that he has British nationality?
Years ago, he was arrested in Morocco because he was wanted. Yet, the UK intervened and said he was a British citizen. He was immediately taken back to London where he is living.
To be continued.


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