Defected AQIM Leader Featured in Video

(al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb )
A leading member of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) who had reportedly turned himself in to Algerian authorities, appeared in a new propaganda video released by the group on the Internet.

"Ali Ben Touati" who is known as Amin Abou Tammam was the commander of this attack featured in the video. He was shown briefing other members of the group on the operation.

Algerian media reported Saturday that Ben Touati had turned himself in in response to the appeal made last month by the founder of the Algerian Salafist Group for Call and Combat (SGCC) Hassan Hattab. Hattab had then issued a statement calling on AQIM operatives to lay their arms down and take advantage of the government amnesty program launched by President Abdulaziz Bouteflika.

The video also demonstrates some of the group's weaknesses. The group said it shows an attack on the headquarters of Algerian municipal guards in al Shari'a village, in Tizi Ouzou, but it seems that unexpected resistance from the soldiers barricaded inside the base has foiled the gang's plan.

The video, dated January 2009, opens with some reconnaissance footage captured by group members ahead of the attack. This was followed by pictures of group members preparing for the attack; getting their explosives ready and reviewing the attack's plan with their chief. Shaky night pictures then showed the men as they launched their assault on the building and a heavy gunfire exchange taking place between the two sides.

Although the tape was meant to be a propaganda video and prove the group's strength, it did not include pictures to support the claim that the group's members had broken into the base after all the soldiers had either been killed or ran off. It seemed like AQIM's men were unable to move inside the base and two of the group's members had been shot. Moreover, the group did not show any seized "booty" as it usually does in its video.

The video also demonstrates the lack of basic medical supplies available to the group. One of the men who were wounded during the battle was shown conscious on the tape and didn't seem to be in critical condition. But he succumbed to his wounds. The other had the wound on his head covered with bandages and his arms rubbed with olive oil!

The video also featured pictures of a leading member of group who recently turned himself in to Algerian authorities. "Ali Ben Touati" who is known as Amin Abou Tammam, was the commander of this attack and was shown briefing other members of the group.

Algerian media reports said on Saturday that Ben Touati had turned himself in, in response to the appeal made last month by the founder of the Algerian Salafist Group for Call and Combat (SGCC) Hassan Hattab. Hattab had then issued a statement calling on AQIM operatives to lay their arms down and take advantage of the government amnesty program launched by President Abdulaziz Bouteflika.
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