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Salafist Group for Call and Combat (GSPC)
Description
The Salafist Group for Call and Combat (GSPC), an outgrowth of the GIA, appears to have eclipsed the GIA since approximately 1998 and is currently the most effective armed group inside Algeria. In contrast to the GIA, the GSPC has gained some popular support through its pledge to avoid civilian attacks inside Algeria. Its adherents abroad appear to have largely co-opted the external networks of the GIA and are particularly active throughout Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. First designated in March 2002.

Activities
The GSPC continues to conduct operations aimed at government and military targets, primarily in rural areas, although civilians are sometimes killed. A faction within the GSPC held 31 European tourists hostage in 2003 to collect ransom for their release. According to press reporting, some GSPC members in Europe maintain contacts with other North African extremists sympathetic to al-Qaida. In late 2003, the new GSPC leader issued a communique declaring the group?s allegiance to a number of jihadist causes and movements, including al-Qaida.

Strength
Unknown; probably several hundred fighters with an unknown number of support networks inside Algeria.

Location/Area of Operation
Algeria, Northern Mali, Northern Mauritania, and Northern Niger.

External Aid
Algerian expatriates and GSPC members abroad, many residing in Western Europe, provide financial and logistic support. In addition, the Algerian Government has accused Iran and Sudan of supporting Algerian extremists in years past.



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