Algeria to expel 105 Malians

Algeria’s President Abdelaziz Bouteflika
Photo: REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

Algeria has concluded plans to expel 105 Malians for being members of the Ansar Eddine militant group, an official source said, the first such action in the North African country against the group.

“It is a decision of Algiers’ court,” the official, who asked not to be named, told Reuters.

The UN on Tuesday urged Algeria to stop rounding up and expelling sub-Saharan migrants.

Algeria has rejected the criticism, saying it was facing a massive influx of illegal migrants on its southern borders with Mali and Niger.

Militants linked to Malian jihadist Iyad Ag Ghali have claimed responsibility for dozens of attacks on Malian, UN and French troops operating in Mali’s desert north.

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and a local branch of the Islamic state are the two main militant groups in Algeria.

The group, also transliterated “Ançar Deen; meaning “helpers of the (Islamic) religion” or “defenders of the faith”, is a militant Islamist group led by Iyad Ag Ghaly, one of the most prominent leaders of the Tuareg Rebellion from 1990 to 1995.

The group who is suspected of having ties to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which is led by his cousin Hamada Ag Hama. Ansar Dine seeks to impose strict Sharia law across Mali.

The group’s first action was in March 2012.

Ansar Dine has its main base among the Ifora tribe from the southern part of the Tuaregs’ homeland.

It has been linked with Al-Qaeda Organisation in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) because its leader Iyad Ag Ghaly is the cousin of AQIM commander Hamada Ag Hama.

On Jan. 24, 2013, a faction calling itself the Islamic Movement for the Azawad split from Ansar Dine.

As of January 2013, this group was led by prominent Tuareg leader Alghabass Ag Intalla.

In March 2013 it was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the U.S. Department of State,[15] and similarly classed as a terrorist organisation by the UN Security Council.