MAOL: Operation Boudiaf
Algerische Bewegung Freier Offiziere (Mouvement Algérien des OfficiersLibres, http://www.anp.org) *
After the coup d’etat, the putschists generals wanted to find some means of calming the angry population because of the suspension of the electoral process and by the same token pretending to push the army away from the façade of the state command. They had but to act behind pseudo-civilian government, in order not to attract the wrath of western states, who although relieved for not seeing the Islamic Salvation Front in power, could not directly back a military dictatorship.
The generals: Khaled Nezzar, Abdel Malek Guenaizia, Mohamed Lamari, Mohamed Mediene, Mohamed Touati, had to find as quickly as possible a head of state made to measure, a man who would fulfil some very precise conditions. As a starting point, a criteria was already there: the « happy » chosen must be a veteran of the war of liberation ( mujahid), of an untouchable revolutionary past, a victim of the Chadli era and even that of Boumediene if possible, and finally must be as far away as possible of any political cleavage. With such defined criteria, only a small number of candidates can meet the requirements of a head of state. It is almost with a pure chance that Nezzar had mentioned the name of Mohamed Boudiaf: a man that fit all the conditions and has a enormous weight: However, a huge problem arose: Was Mr. Boudiaf interested in this poisoned position, when it is Known that he has left politics for a long time now and devoted himself to his business and to his family? To this end, the generals decided to send for him one of his closest friends in order to inform him of the proposition, Ali Haroun was entrusted with this delicate mission. Every one involved (at the general secretariat of the ministry of defence) held their breath; they were all hoping for a positive reply from Boudiaf.
In Morocco, the two friends met at Si- Mohamed’s, and Ali Haroun revealed the aim of his visit with a lot of emotion. Boudiaf, moved but not surprised, promised to think it over and give an answer in the earliest possible time. After consultation with both his family and an old Moroccan friend doctor, he eventually accepted, not because of the prestige of the job but for the seriousness of the situation in which the country is, presented by Ali Haroun as catastrophic. Boudiaf made his first contacts from Morocco with some old members of the PRS( his own party), and informed King Hassan 11 who took this news as a gift from heaven, thus, the western Sahara question is going to be resolved.
The Algiers putschists were informed of the news by Ali Haroun, and believed that a solution was at hand for the constitutional crisis that threatened even their future. The news was made public and preparations were made with view of receiving the country’s boy saviour. It goes without saying that France was acquainted with this choice on the same night it was decided to join Boudiaf, who is well known to the French, since he was a former warrant officer in the French army, with a military medal and the war cross. What could we have done better to satisfying friends of the other side of the sea? The circle was then completed and the legalisation of the new political leadership of the country was successfully achieved. Nezzar has contributed personally to the acceptance of Boudiaf to head the military institution, whilst certain high officers who disapproved of the choice took this new development as an insult. They have not forgotten that this figure of the revolution had sided with Hassan 11 during the green march, which led to a fratricide war where hundreds of military Algerians were killed, many disappeared and scores were made prisoners.
At 73 Boudiaf was in no doubt that he would enter Algeria with the title of the highest magistrate, for whom a red carpet would be rolled out. The fact of him staying away from Algeria is a major handicap for him, however, for the vulture of the ministry of defence it is certainly an advantage. Once at the presidential palace, Boudiaf took relatively quickly to his new life, and began discovering the secrets of a state in a complete shamble and on all fronts. Worst of all, it was at the beginning of a civil war faked by false security reports ( he approved of all security measures decided against the FIS sympathisers, who ran the risk of putting the future of Algeria in jeopardy according to these same reports). He was totally guided by decision- makers at the ministry of defence whose decisions he agreed to without even commenting on, in the beginning.
Little by little Boudiaf started taking some liberties by appointing his henchmen and his faithful friends at all levels. The biggest of the hurdles remained the army, in which he could not find but a weak reaction. Boudiaf has seen many of his decrees and nominations annulled, which were in favour of some officers he wanted around him. However, rows with high officers of the MOD became frequent, and the ministry often issued counter-orders: and the margin of manoeuvre for the president became smaller and smaller. Under a permanent bugging system and under close surveillance: Boudiaf’s contacts were straight away identified and gunned down » if necessary » by shooters of general Toufik.
It is only after taking office that Boudiaf understood that only a popular basis, legal and solid could provide him with enough force and especially the legal power to undertaking all the changes needed in his views to lead Algeria out of the crisis. Of course, these changes were not to the liking of dark forces within the power structure. These same forces that wrote the various scenarios of the Algerian politics in the past, had other projects in mind.
Boudiaf was alerted by some faithful in the circles of power, and his chief of staff was besieged with phone calls on the one hand, and by envoys from the MOD on the other hand, who would ask him to calm down Si-Mohamed (Boudiaf), as the former often made decisions without referring to leaders of the MOD (MDN).
As a big headed as he is, Boudiaf surprised every one by re-judging Belloucif (a former chief of staff put in trial in early 90’s) again; thus, he courageously challenged the Algiers barons and this after secret consultations with Kasdi Merbah (the former head of the secret services, killed in August 1993). One must say the two knew each other and were on the same side of the political divide, and that is why Kasdi Merbah promised his support for this man whom he respected as much as he did for Si-AbdelHafid Boussouf ( the founder of Algerian secret service during the war of liberation). The backing of Kasdi Merbah was huge especially that ( no doubt) he was one of few people to know the Algerian reality: hence he was aware of the real enemies in power, and to fight them he needed a man like Boudiaf to assist him. Merbah has gone to far in his contacts, even with Toufik, ( a former second-lieutenant who worked for the secret service of the army when Merbah was the chief); he managed to secure a promise of help ( an impartiality of the secret services vis a vis the changes the president wanted to undertake) in order to bring the country out of the crisis. Playing double agent by Toufik was necessary: given that his job at that time was highly sought after by some extremely dangerous jealous people, and to anticipate the facts and the movements of Boudiaf would give him some length ahead of others.
At the time when Belloucif story was on the point of being re-judged, general Toufik threw to the national press the case of Hadj Betou (already known to the secret service for his obscure dealings with sub-Saharan countries) in order to divert the attentions, but Hadj Betou was in fact only a link in the chain that leads to Larbi Belkheir.
The re-opening of Belloucif case with its ramifications would bring to court: Chadli Bendjedid, Larbi Belkheir and other souls that were guiltier than Belloucif. If putting to trial for misappropriation of a sum of money which was minor (compared to other misappropriations ), this would have seen Chadli put to trial and especially Larbi Belkheir for high treason given the nature of charges linked to this case. The reality, is that all this began with a project to buy a radar system, to cover the entire Algerian territory, which introduced by Larbi Belkheir on behalf of the French government. The project was refused by Mustapha Belloucif who was the general secretary of the MOD as well as by a number of high officers for its high cost (more than 4 billion French francs), this contract was indeed, fraught with negative consequences for the development of the country as it would have put the whole of the air defence system under French dominance; that is why Belloucif had refused to adopt it despite strong pressure from both Larbi Belkheir and Chadli to bring this project to a successful conclusion ( lieutenant general, chief of staff Mohamed Lamari signed a similar contract in 1995 with the French government of course with the exception that this time the bill was higher).
Following his refusal, Belloucif was officially discharged by Chadli for corruption and mismanagement. As for the evidence for his incrimination, they were provided to Larbi Belkheir by his French friends (details of a bank account in Paris, some video-tapes showing him with female agents (of Lebanese origin) of the French services and some other details of a clinic in Neuilly from which huge profits were drawn). Faced with such a policy of sleaze and disgrace, Belloucif could not do anything to defend himself and had but to take without being able to respond. In reality, Belloucif was brought down by the French services. Paris did not want of this trial as it was going to unearth the relationships between Larbi Belkheir and the French authorities while he was chief of staff at the presidency under Chadli (Jacques Attali: a confident of the French president Mitterrand, was the direct contact of Belkheir and his consultant when it comes to the French policy in Algeria). Being naive in this instance, Boudiaf was not aware of all the ins and outs of this matter, which he so insisted on to shedding light on and exposed it to the public in its smallest details.
Mistakes, there were plenty of them made by Boudiaf, however, in some instances he had no choice at all. « Algeria before anything else » was his principle and his symbol, which was certainly the case for the decision-makers in Algeria. The man in the street asked for accountability and still pursed justice for the victims of October 88; Boudiaf knew that, and it was that justice, luxury, and so difficult to reach. However, Boudiaf did not give up; he entrusted his people with whom he shares the ideas with an » impossible » mission: setting up a scheme for cleansing the whole of the power structure of the corrupt people and judging the guilty publicly. This was once again with the help of Kasdi Merbah for whom he gathered files of more than three hundred pages on the activities of certain elements in power. Merbah had even suggested names of officers that could be associated in undertaking this delicate operation. Thus, Boudiaf chose a high officer of the DRS to head the mission, a close friend of general Saidi Fodil and a revolutionary of the first hour), he was colonel Mourad, famous in the DRS circles for dealing with the most sensitive cases of the services.
Colonel Mourad presented to the president a preliminary report giving a general picture of the extent of the damage by corruption and the influence of the » politico-financial » Mafia in Algeria as well as an appendix to the file by Merbah. It also included a detailed plan of action with the evidence gathered by Merbah (gathered during his eighteen years in the service). Thus, Boudiaf had a list of names and knew for a fact that the salvation of Algeria could only be achieved by naming the real culprits of the Algerian malaise so that the lost trust between the people and their rulers can be restored. Furthermore, he thought that this can be done according to the terms of the constitution, he certainly did not want to resort to vile methods.
It is worth mentioning that those involved had very well lined accounts abroad especially in Switzerland and France in particular where money is laundered via special networks and end up invested in property. This money amounted to about (65 billion Dollars) that disappeared in 12 years, plus the bank loans).
Colonel Mourad was asked by Boudiaf to investigate these misappropriations and whether it is possible to get back at least part of these sums. President Boudiaf even contacted directly the then French premier minister, » Pierre Beregovoy », and sought his personal assistance in shedding light on the acts of certain Algerian officials in France.
Few days later, after that Khaled Nezzar had reluctantly accepted to sign their assignment papers, colonel Mourad and three of his aides went to Paris. They were received by their counterparts at Matignon, and the aim of the trip was to obtain details on bank accounts of some Algerian executives such as: Larbi Belkheir, Noureddine Benkourtebi, Mohamed Atailia, Cherif Ouadni, Khaled Nezzar, Mustapha Belloucif and many more. It goes without saying that on both sides of the Mediterranean Sea senior people, well placed, had sounded the alarm on seeing this move.
In Algiers, Larbi Belkheir and others affected by Boudiaf’s actions opted for the radical solution when they knew of the launch of this purification operation.
Needless to say that the journey of colonel Mourad and his assistants was a failure, since the French justice would not lift the confidentiality act on the bank accounts holders. A week on his return to Algiers, colonel Mourad was found shot dead with three bullets to his neck in Bachdjarah (East of Algiers). Of course, it was the terrorists who killed him (official version); of the three aides that accompanied him to Paris (2 captains and a lieutenant) non of them survived: they were all eliminated by terrorists in the two weeks that followed- they had military ceremonies though- Boudiaf was mad on hearing of the death of colonel Mourad, he then, understood with whom he was dealing; this event made him flee this cursed job and went back to Morocco without telling anyone. It was the first time that an Algerian president abandons his post in the middle of the night.
Few weeks prior to the murder of president Boudiaf, the secretariat of the MOD was in ebullition; contacts between different chiefs intensified. Nezzar and Toufik did not depart one another at any time and the signing of the assignment papers by Nezzar of colonel Mourad, on his way to Paris, had thrown its weight on all this. Boudiaf had disturbed the structure of the Algerian Mafia and many heads were going to roll over, should the measures taken by the president were to be implemented.
In the beginning of June 92, during a nightly meeting between generals Khaled Nezzar, Toufik and Larbi Belkheir at Sidi Fredj (a family military center), the option of the physical elimination of the president imposed itself as the only solution to the Boudiaf problem, especially that the latter had just returned from Morocco following his abandoning of the presidential palace, a return that was due to intensive efforts by many officials ( among them general Touati) who convinced him of the need to continue serving the country).
A week before the murder of president Boudiaf, all the files that he assembled, were stolen by night from the presidential office. He was aware then that all the people he wanted removed would do everything to escape justice once more. On the day even when Boudiaf was on his « final » visit to Annaba, Larbi Belkheir along with his younger brother AbdelKader forced his way into the office of the president, taking away with him another pile of documents.
As time was pressing and the situation was serious, everything had to be done in order to stop Boudiaf, who tries to catch unaware the other camp. It is with the collaboration of general Smain Lamari (a colonel at the time): deputy-director of the DRS and head of the interior security that Toufik set about the first sketches of the elimination of the president. The Islamist scenario was not chosen for confidentiality reasons; in fact the use of Islamist agents would not have guaranteed an absolute discretion to the operation and the result would have been less certain given the effectiveness of the SSP elements( presidential security service) and those of the GIS (special intervention group). The only way that could give a reliable outcome was that of an operation mounted from within: an isolated shooter who would act of his own mind (for one reason or another); they could say for example that the shooter was mentally disturbed and thus put an end to the story with a minimum of risks taken and maximum chance for success.
It was Smain Lamari’s scenario that gradually took form after the approval by Toufik, Nezzar and Belkheir. The death squad under the supervision of Smain (a phantom cell created by Belkheir and Toufik, run by Smain and composed of elements of the operational service chosen with great care) had the easy task of eliminating all witnesses and those in the way within Boudiaf network. Even if the list was long Smain took the villain pleasure to remove his enemies and those in the know, without anyone spared.
The detailed plan of the assassination of Boudiaf was not known until its execution and only by few members of the secret services, who befriended Boumaraafi during the first that followed the drama. What is more, Boumaraafi was very anxious then and especially worried about transmitting his horrible secret for who deserves it. The choice by Smain Lamari of the second-lieutenant Boumaraafi was not by chance, he had already noticed the coolness of this element and his discretion during previous operations. Colonel Smain, at the time: chief of the operational was able to judge who is more suitable. It was at Antar (Smain’s fetish operational center) that colonel Smain gave the first instructions of the operation without naming the target, inciting him to join the death squad in order to purify the country from traitors who wanted to destroy and sell the entire country. It goes without saying that promises of promotion and care had an impact on Boumaraafi. In deed, to have somebody in the army to protect you is very important, if one wants to climb high in the hierarchy, that was what Boumaraafi needed. After a series of meetings, Boumaraafi was finally ready for the « D » day. He confessed after his act that on being told of the identity of the man to kill, he no longer could leave Smain’s office alive if he were to refuse the mission.
On the eve of the operation a last minute problem almost spoilt everything; major Hamou (chief of the GIS) had not appointed the second lieutenant Boumaraafi for the mission to Annaba. The chief of the GIS can not stand BI whom he partly blamed for the death of his friend and the former chief of the GIS, namely, major Abderahmane (during an anti terrorist operation at Telemley (Algiers): major Abderahmane and second lieutenant Tarek, both from the GIS had been killed on the spot while they tried to enter a house. Boumaraafi was supposed to cover them, who were surprised by a barrage of bullets that even the bullets-proof vests they were wearing could not save them.
Informed of those going to Annaba, colonel Smain called Hamou to order him to issue individual assignment papers to include Boumaraafi in the mission. Hamou made some reservations regarding the effectiveness of this element, but he ended up caving in to the pressure of his boss.
The GIS team that was to assist the SSP went by road on reconnaissance tour one day prior to the President’s visit to smoothen and finalise security measures. On the day of the president arrival to Annaba, the elements of the GIS were in complete harmony with those of the SSP; did not have any restriction whatsoever within the perimeter of security. The reason was very simple from a professional point of view: the members of both bodies were very well trained and in particular those of the GIS, they Knew each other perfectly well and used to be moved from one body to another as their chiefs please. Consequently, no element of any of the two bodies would doubt the integrity of another element within the protection team.
When the president reached the venue « the youth house » which was to be inaugurated, certain members of the GIS were behind the hall’s curtains and some others outside: covering the external security of the hall’s backside which leads to a nearby housing estate not that distant from « the youth house ». Boumaraafi was clothed in a newly received uniform of intervention (an impressive navy-blue coloured; witnesses confused later on Boumaraafi with the elements of the police intervention team because of this uniform). Before the arrival of the president, he posted himself on the backyard but went in and out of the hall where the atmosphere was more clement in this morning of the end of June.
Everything was smooth and going according to plan and the P was at his speech with the hope of rallying the population of eastern Algeria to his project and promoting his movement whose symbol is » Algeria before anything else », the entire scene was broadcast live to the whole of the country. Behind the curtain, members of the presidential close protection and elements of the GIS chatted at a low voice, whereas, the chief of the SSP: major Hadjeres was talking, while smoking a cigarette with major Hamou, deputy director of the SSP, captain Zaidi, capatin Sadek, in charge of training at the SSP and the GIS team’s mission chief lieutenant Torki. At the entrance of the back door was lieutenant Yacine, the deputy chief of the GIS mission whereas in the backyard Boumaraafi is to be posted maximising security.
At the time where all people’s attention was on the speech of the old revolutionary, a first small explosion was heard in the hall, preceded by a sound of a rumble. Boumaraafi had pulled the pin out of a grenade and rolled it under the curtains; he suddenly emerged at the same time firing a first burst of bullets, which caused diversion among the protection system. The elements of the SSP and the GIS believed that an external attack was taking place, they saw Boumaraafi shoot, but the latter pointed his sub machine gun (a 9 mm calibre Berretta, parabellum: a fearsome weapon) towards the head of president Boudiaf, firing a long burst. Every one was taken by surprise and elements of the SSP started shooting in the curtain direction causing some injuries among the team itself. The only image everyone retained was that of Boumaraafi running towards the backdoor where lieutenant Yacine was, without understanding what was going on. The Algerian people have just witnessed the live elimination of the president; it was hardly imaginable that it was happening in Algeria. Once in the backyard, Boumaraafi climbed quickly over a wall of almost two meters high; only a handful of policeman at a distance and few passers-by could have seen this scene. He ran to the nearest building and knocked at the first flat he found on the ground floor; a young woman opened the door for him, undoubtedly impressed by his uniform and his weapon thinking that a police raid was taking place. The only thing Boumaraafi asked for was to call the police and tell them that the killer of the president wanted to surrender. Upon being contacted, the police went fairly quickly to the address indicated. The chiefs of the GIS and SSP were informed by the chief of security of the county (Wilaya), of the arrest of Boumaraafi who gave himself up without resistance. At the same time and in a total confusion, the president was taken in a poorly equipped ambulance, without even a doctor, to a hospital, which was even difficult to find. The president was seriously hurt and death was almost instantly: an acute decerebration was caused by the several bullets that hit his brain.
In Algiers colonel Smain followed of course the operation live on television and from the early moments of the attack he called the GLAM (ministerial grouping of the air liaison) in order to prepare a plane for him urgently, then he got in touch with Mohamed Ouadeh (chief of the national police) whom he asked to join along with a team from Antar (an operational center). The presidential protection team (the SSP and the GIS) was depressed and worried. As soon as the death of the president was confirmed, the shock grew bigger and bigger and no one knew why and how it happened. Assembled as they were in the same hall, the whole of the team saw arrive, few hours later, colonel Smain, Mohamed Oudeh and some other familiar faces; Smain met with the chiefs of the GIS and the SSP for some moments, then he went back to the team members to ask after their news. He tried to comfort them with these words: » do not worry about it; it was an isolated act; it was not your fault, anyway you could not have done anything against this mad man, as for the loss of a president it happened even to the Americains ». They then ordered them to go back to Algiers. Then, Smain accompanied with Hadjeres, Hamou and Hamou and Oudeh went to the county (Wilaya) police department where Boumaraafi was detained; the latter, hardly had he seen colonel Smain Lamari that he jumped from his chair and shouted: « did you come you (a bad word); are you happy this way »(djit ya ouahed ashemata, rak ferhan hakda), the atmosphere was very heavy and Smain ordered his companions to transfer him to the plane. The president was meanwhile transferred to the Ain Na’adja hospital (HCA) in Algiers where the doctor major Brixi: chief of the forensic medical department, gave the official version of the origin of death.
At almost the same time colonel Smain took Boumaraafi to the emergency department within the HCA where doctor colonel Koutchoukali: head of the psychiatric unit examined Boumaraafi and gave him a tranquillising injection. Boumaraafi objected violently to the injection and shouted as loud as he could: « you wanted to kill me, you wanted to kill me » and insulted Smain with all the bad possible words. Once almost asleep, Boumaraafi was transferred to the head quarters prison for his first night in jail.
The national investigation commission was installed speedily by the HCE (high council of state) on 4th of July 1992. It was composed of personalities carefully chosen by the generals in question. It included Mr. Belhocine Mabrouk, Ahmed Bouchaib, M’hamed Ferhat, Youcef FathAllah, Kamal Rezzag Bara and Allel Tha’aliby.
Following the first meeting of this commission, Ahmed Bouchaib (a close friend of Boudiaf and a former member of the 22 of the 1954 (the 22 that launched the war of liberation) was appointed president of the commission and Kamal Rezzag Bara as rapporteur.
The commission itself had little power however, for « fictional » transparency purposes and impartiality, it had managed (after several meetings with the different protagonists of the assassination) to present its report to the HCE. The report itself was very poor and did not include neither a judicial investigation nor did it include any expert opinion (given the inadequacy of its members) on the murder of the president. The only objective of this commission was to name officially the scape-goats whom the real guilty seek to place the crime upon. The time factor was very important as it played against the real plotters of the assassination; and the appointment of this commission would help relieve the shocked souls by this live elimination.
From the early hours of its installation, pressures were mounting on the commission by Larbi Belkheir and Smain Lamari in order to choose Rezzag Bara as rapporteur. The latter has been for a long time among the most faithful agents serving the « DRS ». Thus, the commission ‘s job was remotely controlled from the start, pushing it to insist on some points instead of others, such as the false letter found with Boumaraafi, his link with the Islamist movement; the responsibility of the GIS elements who had been just added to the SSP for a back up (it must be remembered that at the time, the elite elements of the presidential protection had been assigned for the exclusive protection of the putchists generals). However, the C had deliberately forgotten to accuse Toufik, Smain Lamari and Larbi Belkheir, who were theoretically prime responsible for what had happened to the president.
Within the investigation commission there were distortions and some deep arguments for naming the real guilty. All members had given in because of pressures and intimidations by the generals, except for Youcef FathAllah who refused until the last minute to sign the final report, in which he wanted to include the responsibility of the leaders of the security bodies and called for their resignation as a logical consequence to the drama. Kamal Rezzag Bara, of course did not fail to report the smallest of the details to his chiefs at the DRS: He also, played a key role in the murder of Youcef FathAllah (in his office at the Emir AbdelKader place) a year and a half later, when the latter started writing his report on the Boudiaf affair.
A problem arose in relation to the case investigation, and the Annaba investigating judge decided on the incompetence of the civil jurisdiction given the nature of the case where normally it falls under the military jurisdiction. But the central director of the military justice at the time Mohamed Elallem (after receiving order from general Nezzar) announced to the press that the case falls within the civil jurisdiction. Almost a month on the murder of the president, the grand jury of Annaba tribunal decided that it was competent of a court ratione loci to try the case (within its area), a decision based on article 40 of the penal code.
In fact, the generals who had planed this assassination had quickly realised that they had, at all costs, to push the case into the civil jurisdiction for transparency purposes vis a vis the people who believed in the plot theory, and vis a vis the international institutions on another front; but more importantly: some voices at street level were already accusing general Larbi Belkheir who was named as prime suspect of the crime, an accusation that caused him to state to the national press, while he was interior minister That : « neither the interior minister nor his ministry could be accused in the tragic events of Annaba that cost the life of the president ». A real race against time began as the Algerians who denounced the plot as being orchestrated by the politico-financial sphere against one of the symbols of the revolution and simply against the hope of a population at a loss with the future.
The district attorney general of Annaba: Mohamed Tighramy, in charge officially of this case ordered the continuation of the investigation by officers from the judiciary police and the national armed units and the reconstruction was scheduled for the first week of August 92. The SSP and the GIS teams (with their weapons) went on Saturday morning of the first week of August to Annaba. Boumaraafi was airlifted few days earlier. The reconstruction took place in presence of the officers from the national armed units along with a big number of personalities as well as the investigating judge. However, the big surprised came at the end of the reconstruction which lasted for more than five hours, when the judge announced the arrest of SSP and the GIS members. The surprised was huge and members of the security services refused to surrender their weapons to the officers of the armed units. At a certain moment a member of the GIS pointed his sub-machine gun Berretta at the officers who tried to disarm major Hamou: the GIS chief, angered by what he came to hear from the judge. Major Hadjeres asked to make a phone call to the DRS; from the conversation with general Toufik he got but insults and an order to obey the law; a new language that the chief of the SSP had never heard in his entire life. Because of the insistence of majors Hadjeres and Hamou, officer elements and none-commissioned officers gave up their weapons and turned themselves prisoners. They were driven handcuffed to an armed unit station where they spent more than a week there. The officers were put in a same big cell with nothing but an underwear. After the squabble between members of the DRS and the armed units, the latter took revenge especially after the support they got from the chief of the national armed units (general Benabbes Gheziel) who was removed from the summit of the decisions-making.
Over all, two senior officers (major Hadjeres: chief of the SSP and major Hamou: chief of the GIS) three subaltern officers (captain Zaidi: deputy chief to the SSP, lieutenant Torki: group chief and lieutenant Yacine: deputy-chief to the group) and eighteen other none-commissioned officers, besides, the main suspect: Boumaraafi would be charged with the assassination and many other charges sanctioned by capital punishment. At the ministry of national defence and after menaces by Larbi Belkheir, general Khaled Nezzar, Toufik ( Mohamed Mediene), and colonel Smain Lamari, had taken a decision with devastating consequences and would trouble the entire of the military establishment and especially the secret services: members of the services who were on mission to Annaba were going to be sacrificed. When the family of the officers met with general Toufik, the latter could not find but evasive answers to the many questions put to him; » this is part of the job, but they will continue to receive their payments normally ». The most unbelievable statement came from colonel Smain who told cynically to some officers worried about the fate of their colleagues, » it is them or your chiefs; who do you chose »?
The investigation of the affair took some time while in Annaba and in order to « sink » the investigation of the file, the generals decided to transfer it to Algiers. The Annaba investigation judge took the decision very badly and resigned from his post, he was then forced to go back on his decision or face consequences. Mohamed Tighramt did not have the choice, fearing for his life, he did not hesitate at all to issue a statement refuting his resignation which was already announced by both the press and television.
In Algiers, it was the attorney general of Algiers tribunal: AbdelMalek Sayah an old agent of the services (exclusively under Smain Lamari who recruited him some years before while Sayah was at the school of Judges) and a former court judge of state security at Medea. Mohamed Saada: a second class judge but known for his honesty, was appointed to help Sayah for any mishaps. Sayah AbdelMalek and Kamal Rezzag Bara had practically saved the future of their manipulating officers (Toufik and Smain), and were lavishly rewarded for that.
The suspects (officers and none-commissioned officers arrested in Annaba) were transferred with their file by plane to Algiers. Once at Boufarik military airport (under a heavy escort of armed units members), they were led out of the Hercules on board which they arrived, with hands and feet chained, the employees at the airport could not believe the state the prisoners were in. Along with Boumaraafi, the detained were transferred to the notorious civilian prison of Serkadji « Barberousse ». With the exception that Boumaraafi was in solitary confinement and put under permanent video surveillance. Destiny wanted that major Hamou found Abdelkader Hachani in the Serkadji prison, one of the FIS leaders he had arrest some time ago.
In total, five officers of whom two had senior ranks and eighteen none-commissioned officers, some with over twenty years of experience were sacrificed to the needs of the transparency scenario that the real plotters had written. The parents of the officers hired lawyers to defend the defendants following the silence of the chiefs who no longer wanted to receive them and because of the climate of treason that was hanging over. When Kasdi Merbah learnt that the none-commissioned officers could not afford to engage lawyers, he instructed his own lawyer (and that of his party « Majd ») to defend them, which was not a good news for Toufik. Apart from sidelining elements responsible for the president’s security, Toufik decided sealling the video- tape recorded with Boumaraafi. Recording conditions were very tense and Boumaraafi did not wanted to co-operate at all and did not stop making remarks about the conditions of his detention and his fears to assassinate him to silence him. It was not until he was injected forcibly with a tranquilliser that he went to the recording room. The session was catastrophic, answers by Boumaraafi to questions of the officer behind the camera were without sense, and most of his words were insults towards the plotters and comments on the state of the country. To the question: « do you have links with the Islamists of the FIS? he replied: it is not people with beards and djellabas who dare do what I did ».
The investigation was poorly conducted and the agent Sayah AbdelMalek (now rewarded for his loyalty as a Consul in Tunisia) did everything to sink all clues that would tie up the generals plotters to the murder. Never an agent of the services had such a power and many advantages; besides, the body guards provided by the operational service of Antar and a chalet at the Club Des Pins (a government residential district heavily guarded) , he was one the very few civilians to have had a armoured car costing a fortune to the taxpayer. When the parents of one of the accused officers tried to intervene and complained of Sayah excesses (to his friend the justice minister of the time: Mahi Bahi), he received personal assurances that the file would be transferred to another judge.
The minister Mahi Bahi kept his promise and summoned Sayah, but during the encounter it was Mahi Bahi who heard more insults from Sayah when the minister of justice told him of his intention of withdrawing the case, which was to be between the hands of many judges instead of one judge. Sayah did not waste time and went straight away to Ghermol (office of the counter espionage: DCE) to the office of colonel Smain Lamari. One telephone call from Smain solved the problem. The very same day on the eight o’clock news, the resignation of the justice minister was announced, to the surprise of the minister himself.
One question posed by the investigation committee remained without answer: « why did not you stay on the crime scene after the act, and why did you give yourself up to the police ten minutes later »? It was not Boumaraafi who provided the answer to this question, but one of his colleagues of the GIS « the staff-sergeant Kamal Aidoun ». This staff-sergeant was one of the first GIS elements to have been part of the team ensuring the president’s security in Annaba. He fled his GIS barrack at the end of 1993, and his reasons were very justified as Smain Lamari wanted his head at all costs, as he has had that of a none-commissioned officer few months earlier, for the simple reason that Kamal Aidoun had failed in his mission in Annaba. His mission was clear as were the direct orders from Smain Lamari a week before the drama: « following some suspicions around Boumaraafi’s loyalty, you have the green light to eliminate him at the slightest mistake ».
Without knowing much why Kamal Aidoun found himself ill-at-ease on receiving these instructions and it was only after Boudiaf assassination that he understood; but the big trouble for him was that he did not obey Smain. For more security another none-commissioned officer was entrusted with the same mission but this element « from Algiers originally » had put his brother in the know few days on the murder of the president and told him: « I know now why the old wolf (Smain’s name within the service) had asked me to kill Boumaraafi in Annaba ». This non-commissioned officer was arrested by the head of the Antar ‘s center (of the time major Farid) and tortured for a fictive link to a terrorist group, and his brother met the same fate some time later, however, the secret had already been disclosed.
That is why Kamal Aidoun had deserted after confirming to his close friends that he got the same orders, but could not kill a colleague. The escape of Kamal was of short period as S mobilised all operational forces to find this explosives specialist who turned shirt. Kamal was eliminated by elements of the national police intervention and his weapon (Berretta 92F) was returned to the GIS with its full magazine. Boumaraafi was right not to trust Smain, and that is why he surrendered to police rather than to his colleagues.
The assessment of the Boudiaf operation had been high in terms of human lives cost: more than twenty people were eliminated following the orders of Smain and Toufik to protect the big secret, Kasdi Merbah who had decided to publish the motives for the assassination of Boudiaf. Even Zeroual (then minister of defence) could not calm him and convince him to return the files he had in his possession, two weeks prior to his elimination. The chief of the security office at the Algerian embassy in Switzerland (major Samir) collected the files in question, given back to the DRS by a relative of the late Merbah.
It goes without saying that the massacre of Sarkadji (that cost the lives of two hundred prisoners) in February 1995 was directly linked to the policy of silencing one of the last proofs of the clear implication of Nezzar, Belkheir, Toufik and Smain in the murder of one of the symbols of the symbols of the revolution.
Sentenced in June 1995 to capital punishment Lembarek Boumaraafi is at the moment imprisoned in Blida’s military prison. The execution of the sentence is suspended for the time being.
We offer our condolences to the families of all the victims of this affair which remains one of the darkest the service had ever known. In the mean time the real murder plotters of Boudiaf (Khaled Nezzar, Larbi Belkheir, Mohamed Mediene, Smain Lamari and Mohamed Lamari following suite) continue assassinating an entire people.
* Vor einigen Monaten hat die Algerische Bewegung Freier Offiziere eine Internetseite eröffnet, auf der Erklärungen und Enthüllungen dieser Gruppe zu lesen sind. Die Existenz dieser Gruppe hat sich herumgesprochen, und wir werden oft nach ihren Texten, die unseres Wissens nur im Internet zugänglich sind, gefragt. Hier drucken wir ihre Darstellung der Ermordung des Präsidenten Boudiaf im Juni 1992 ab. Der Text ist auch auf Französisch verfügbar. URL: http://www.anp.org/