World Bulletin / News Desk
Algeria has identified drug trafficking as a top national security threat linked to militancy in the region and put its powerful army in charge of fighting it, interior minister Daho Ould Kablia said.
"We are waging a war. It is a war against a new form of terrorism: drugs trafficking," Ould Kablia told the APS state news agency late on Wednesday.
A top energy supplier to Europe and an important player in the fight against the spread of militancy in the Sahara, Algeria is concerned about the link between extremism and rising drugs trafficking particularly in the Sahel region of North Africa.
Mokhtar Belmokhtar, who claimed responsibility for the deadly attack on an Algerian gas plant in January, used to provide security to drug traffickers in Algeria in return for money, a security source knowledgeable about militancy in Algeria's Sahara said.
Putting the army in charge sends a strong signal that Algeria is taking the problem seriously, observers said. Fighting drug trafficking was formerly the job of the National Gendarmerie, Customs, and Border Patrol.
"Smuggling provides armed groups and AQIM (al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb) in the Sahara the financial means to buy weapons, and hire new militants," security expert and editor of Ennahar Anis Rahmani told Reuters.
"Obviously the only force capable to counter the growing smuggling activity that includes drugs trafficking is the Algerian army."
Nearly 78 tonnes of cannabis resin were seized during the first 6 months of 2013 versus 71 tonnes during the same period last year, according to the National Office for the Fight Against Drugs and Addiction.
Most of the cannabis and cannabis resin come from neighboring Morocco, Algerian officials say.
"We consider that drugs trafficking is now Algeria's number one security threat, and terrorism is in the second position," a top security official, who asked not to be named, told Reuters.
An Israeli army commander has made shocking threats to Palestinian youth held in the Al-Duheisha, threatening that he will “make all the youth of the camp disabled,” according to a Palestinian rights group, reported by the Middle East Monitor
Hillary Clinton has received the first classified intelligence briefing Saturday morning
Japan has pledged to give $30 billion as an investment to Africa by 2018
Egyptian authorities to reopen Rafah crossing on Tuesday for three consecutive days
Incumbent President Ali Bongo faces stiff competition from former African Union Commission
Spanish authorities have cracked down on an illegal ring that involves Chinese domestic staff
Scots drive to put Israel's West Bank wall on the Google Map as fall-out from Celtic fans Palestinian flag protest simmers
Turkish president expresses sadness in call to Italian counterpart, extends his condolences to the families of victims killed in early Wednesday earthquake with a mass funeral is held today for 34 of the 284 people killed
Prime Minister-designate Youssef Chahed's new unity government wins votes of confidence in parliament.
Time to ‘choose engagement over isolation’ senior government minister
At least 16 people have died in a fire at a warehouse in Moscow, authorities have said.
Ex-Bush adviser Paul Wolfowitz slams Trump who has joined a chorus of “neocons” in distancing themselves from the Republicans' current nominee.
Participants perform shows during Maghreb Riding Festival in Bou Hajla town of Kairouan, Tunisia today on August 26, 2016.
White House spokesman anticipates Obamas 'would make a financial contribution to continue supporting' Kayla’s Hands
American travelers still face restrictions on travel to Caribbean island
Donald Trump’s personal physician has that he wrote a now-infamous medical report about the candidate in just five minutes.