Algerian Police Arrest 17 From Kabyle Separatist Group Reportedly in Contact With ‘Zionist Entity’
Algerian police arrested 17 members of a separatist group on Wednesday, claiming they were planning an armed attack with Israeli help.
According to Bir Mourad Raïs-based Ennahar TV, those arrested were members of the Movement for Self-Determination of Kabylie (MAK), an Imazighen separatist group that seeks self-government for the Kabylie region in Algeria’s Tell Atlas mountains. They were charged with criminal acts targeting homeland security.
The news outlet noted that police had seized weapons and political agitation flyers in the raid, as well as documents indicating continuous contact with “the Zionist entity,” or Israel.
The organization was also targeted for raids in mid-September after being blamed for a series of forest fires in Kabylie that killed dozens of people. At the time, Algiers accused Morocco of encouraging the separatists and of helping to spark the fires, and cut off diplomatic relations with its western neighbor.
In May 2020, the Paris-based MAK and another group based in London, Rachad, were outlawed by the Algerian government and declared terrorist entities under a new law that punishes Algerians abroad for joining any group that "damages the interests of the country.” In 2011, several former senior members of MAK claimed the group was receiving a monthly stipend from the Moroccan government equal to €250,000.
In May 2021, several members of the group were also arrested and accused of being caught planting car bombs.
After Morocco normalized relations with Israel in December 2020, becoming the fourth Arab state to do so that year, the Algerian government moved to ban talking about peace talks with Israel. Like the other Arab states, Algeria is a signatory of the 1967 Khartoum Agreement, where Arab leaders pledged to hold to “three nos” regarding Israel in the wake of the catastrophic Six-Day War: no peace, no recognition and no negotiations. Since then, Egypt, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco have broken that agreement.
Tunisia made a similar move to Algeria in the aftermath of Israel’s 11-day war in Gaza, which killed 256 Palestinians and 13 Israelis.