Al-Qaeda’s Algerian Strategy: Attempts to Co-opt the Hirak and Rehabilitate the Salafi-Jihadi Image

Meili Criezis, Sammie Wicks 31 Mar 2022

Keywords: al-Qaeda, Algeria, Salafism, Hirak, Maghreb, propaganda

The Algerian Hirak is a popular non-violent protest movement pursuing systemic change in Algeria that has pressured the Algerian government for political transition since 16 February 2019. While the Hirak repudiates violent actors, al-Qaeda, a Salafi-jihadist organisation, has attempted to engage the movement through propaganda by utilizing a unique approach to its commentary on the Hirak. Drawing from Algeria’s historical memory of French colonialism and the Algerian Civil War, al-Qaeda sought to gain support from Hirak protestors, foster violent government overthrow, and entrench themselves in the local social structure. This research paper examines al-Qaeda commentary on the Hirak through qualitative content analysis and identifies shifts in propaganda messaging. The research also seeks to contribute towards a gap in the literature by addressing a not commonly discussed subject matter within terrorism studies and  providing grounding for future case studies exploring similar themes.

Related readings:

Boeke, S. Pathways out of the Quagmire? Perspectives for al-Qaeda in the Sahel. Research Paper, The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism, 24 August 2021.

Coleman, J., and  Demuynck, M. The Death of Droukdel: Implications for AQIM and the Sahel. Perspective, The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism, 9 June 2020.

Demuynck, M., and Coleman, J. The Shifting Sands of the Sahel’s Terrorism Landscape. Perspective, The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism. 12 March 2020.