These terrorist activities grow out of the horrific Algerian civil war in the 1990s. AQIM was originally the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), a slightly-less brutal offshoot of the Armed Islamic Group (GIA), who tactics -- which included the massacres of entire villages -- upset even Osama bin Laden. Both groups had ties to AQ, and the GSPC officially merged with AQ in 2006, becoming AQIM.
The Long Night is Coming
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