Al-Qaeda softens its tone but still wants blood

Mina al-Lami notes a change of tactics as the jihadist group woos Arab protesters

The World Today Published 26 May 2019 Updated 6 November 2020 3 minute READ

Mina al-Lami

Heads the Jihadist Media Unit at BBC Monitoring

Since protests broke out in Algeria in late February 2019 against the country’s president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who was standing for a fifth term, there have been large demonstrations demanding freedom and democracy.

A new generation is challenging the ruling military elite, and on April 2 the wheelchair-bound leader finally stepped down after two decades in power.

Less widely known is the fact that Al-Qaeda has been using the latest protests in the Arab world as a new opportunity to win over disgruntled Muslims and exploit their appetite for change.

Al-Qaeda and its affiliates have released four messages since the demonstrations began, showering the protesters with praise, adopting a conciliatory rather than an overtly jihadist tone and even offering operational guidance.

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