Boudjemaa Ayad, one of the MSP party founders worked with armed groups to target the Boumediene regime in the 1970’s. He told Echorouk in an interview he gave up his acts following a fatwa issued by Cheikh Abdelatif Soltani which prohibited bloodshed.
When did you start preaching?
Unfortunately, I attended the first Friday’s prayer after the independence in Katchawa mosque in Algiers. The imam was Cheikh Bachir Ibrahimi. I felt that Algeria recovered its value.
I was against the 1965’s putsch because President Ben Bela was elected by people. I followed Arab Israeli wars and I was ready even to fight by communists’ side.
How did you start preaching?
I joined Daawa Wa Tabligh group at a mosque in Algiers in 1969. We called on people to come to the mosque and listen to our weekly communiqué. We urged people to perform prayers and we helped young men to get married. We encouraged people to stop smoking and drinking.
How did you quit the group?
Authorities were watching the group in Algiers. We had a meeting at Abdelhamid Ben Badis mosque to appoint a leader. An Algerian living in France was chosen. I opposed that but most of the group insisted on him. Because of that, I quitted. That was in 1973.
You mean that authorities knew everything about your moves.
Yes. I was sure of that when I was questioned in 1986. I was asked why I was against the election of the man who was living France. They also asked me if I and my parents performed prayer and they wanted to know the books I read and the radio stations I listened to.
Where was the group based?
The group worked in El Biar, Bir Mourad Rais, Shaoula, Hussein Dey, Brossat, Makaria, La Glaciere, Soumaa and even out of Algiers in Sidi Aissa and Constantine. The group coordinated with La Fac central, a polytechnic school in El Harrach and law institute in Benaknoun.
What about the Muslim Brotherhood?
The foundation process was carried out in two stages. The first was before 1972. It included a group of founders: Ami Said, Abdelkader Abed, Mabrouk El Biskri, Abdelhamid Fkairi, farid Hemou, Taib Ibrahimi, Mohamed Nadir, Mokhtar Semala, Boudjemaa Ayad (me), Abu Bakr Belaadjouzi and Mohamed Guendouzi.
The second group included: Taher Zichi, Mohamed Kirat, Ali nedjmaoui, Ali Boumiza, Mohamed alias Guerd, Hadj Amer, Rabeh Azraoui, Abderrahmane Kirat (Kirat’s brother), Sid Ali Kherf Allah, Nourreddine Belabes, Abdelkader Belaid and Mokrane Iheddadene.
There was also a group of students: Taher Achour, Omar Taib, Alaoua Ramdani, Boulerbah, Cherif Salhi, Mohamed Miliani, Aissa Khelidj, Abdelkader Selami Idir.
Did your wives work with you?
Yes, they did. Of them, there were: Oum Moundir (Cheikh Said’s wife), Oum Ilies (Mohamed Kirat’s wife), Oum Ahmed (Guendouzi’s wife), Oum Sid Ahmed (Rachid Kessou’s wife), Boudjemaa Ayad’s wife and a group of students.
How did you know Mahfoud Nahnah?
Mohamed Kirat recorded every lecture in university. Him and Taher Zichi discovered Nahnah in 1973 and they coordinated between us. We started attending lectures given by Nahnah. We founded a school in Algiers and we invited Nahnah to visit us.
The first meeting was at Zichi’s home. Nahnah was a courageous and a smiling man. I did not give details to him but I explained to him our working way. He understood that I am the man in charge of everything in the group. We visited each other and we followed his activities.
Why were you against the Boumediene regime?
The reason was clear: lands nationalization, the Agricultural Revolution, hostility against everything related to Islam.
How did the groups in Madania and Blida get united?
Nahnah asked me from time to time about activities in Madania and outside. I told him our work was carried out publically. He was very interested.
Where did you hold your meetings?
We met in a cellar of 60 square meters. Benhadj and some students visited us there. We also worked in houses and mosques.
You said Ali Benhadj?
Yes, I did. In 1975, he visited us. He was a young man working with a group of students.
The issue of phone cables caused a conflict between Madania and Blida’s groups.
The Algerian regime passed through two phases. The first one was the 1965’s putsches and the second phase started by the foundation of the Revolution Council. The regime wanted to enter a third phase by eliminating dictatorship. Because of that, we thought of taking to the streets. I discussed with Nahnah about five points: (1) our work must not be against Islam, (2) people must not be killed, (3) our work must not cause damage, (4) people’s daily life must not be hit by our work and (5) our work must not exceed symbolic frame. We started looking for appropriate places to our protests.
So, you planned an armed action against the Boumediene regime.
Yes, we did. I determined places and people. We kept watch on the State’s senior officials because we thought that the right way was to eliminate them. Yet, a fatwa issued by Cheikh Abdelatif Soltani was not in accordance to our work. Because of that, we cut phone cables.
Do you mean that you wanted to assassinate officials in the State?
We kept watch on late President Houari Boumediene and his foreign affairs minister Abdelaziz Bouteflika (who is now Algeria’s president). This plan was secret between me and Nahnah. Yet, we thanks God for not carrying out that plan.
How did you avoid that?
After we had determined places, we asked Cheikh Abdelatif Soltani for advice. I told him: “If I eliminate Boumediene, will I enter the Paradise?” he told me: “If you do that, you will be in the hell.” From that moment, I decided to not carry out bloody plans anymore.
Were you able to kill Boumediene?
We had watched him and Bouteflika for more than a month. We had plan B to kill him. I was thinking of car bomb or bomb belt. Yet, Cheikh Soltani saved me from violence and extremism.
Do you recognize that you made a mistake?
Yes, we made mistakes. If extremists asked scholars for advice, Algeria would not have suffered from the bloody decade. Me and others were saved by Cheikh Soltani who taught us that bloodshed was not a solution to change the situation. Because of that, we adopted a symbolic plan and targeted phone cables which linked sensitive sites.
It’s a pity that the regime deprived scholars like Cheikh Abdelatif Soltani of their rights and duties in society.
To be continued..