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Les Algériens choqués par le grand-père devenu kamikaze

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  • Les Algériens choqués par le grand-père devenu kamikaze

    A 63 ans, le terroriste Rabah Bechla a choqué des millions d'Algériens en devenant le plus vieux terroriste à se faire exploser pour tuer d'autres Algériens.
    Ci dessous, un article du New York Times (18/12/07) dans lequel la journaliste allemande Katrin Bennhold rapporte les propos de 2 filles du vieux kamikaze. On y apprend que sa défunte femme Aicha le rencontrait souvent en cachette pour lui fournir des médicaments. La malheureuse pensait être que son futur kamikaze de mari faisait du camping dans le maquis...

    A Grandfather’s Suicide Bombing Puzzles Algerians
    As a suicide bomber, Rabah Bechla was most unusual. But the story of Mr Bechla, a 63-year-old grandfather of seven who rammed an explosives-packed truck into a United Nations office in Algiers on December 11, killing at least 17 people, is in many ways the story of Algeria itself.

    The bomber’s age, earlier reported as 64, has puzzled a nation accustomed to terrorism associated with the malleable impulsiveness of youth. If his associate that day, a 30-year-old ex-convict who set off the second of two bombs, was described as a textbook case of a young radicalized man, Mr Bechla breaks the usual stereotypes. As with the cases of the first woman to become a suicide bomber in the Palestinian territories and the first ethnic European convert to Islam caught with explosives, his case casts further doubt on the practice of profiling.

    As a prominent journalist here observed, “If a grandfather can blow himself up, anyone can.”

    The hunger among Algerians for an explanation has been evident in disclosures about Mr Bechla’s personal life in the local news media. Some were true, for example, the report that he was very ill. Others were apparently wrong: two of his sons did not die for the jihadist cause. They are alive, and his children gave a long interview in their family home denying that they are part of the Islamist movement.

    But Algerians are also intrigued by Mr Bechla because his life reflects this country’s traumas over the last six decades. As recounted Saturday by family members at Mr Bechla’s home, a cement shack in the village of Heraoua, about 20 miles from Algiers, the capital, the family history stretches back to his grandfather, who fought for France against Germany in World War II. Mr Bechla’s father, family members said, was tortured and killed by the French during the war of independence. Mr Bechla decided to vote for the Islamists in the 1991 presidential election, the one cancelled before it was completed.

    The trajectory continues to one of his sons, who took a step meaningful to many young Algerians: he made a desperate decision even before the bombing to try to enter Spain without immigration papers.

    “Many Algerians can identify with this story,” said Mouloud Hamrouche, a former prime minister of the same age, who opposed the government’s decision in 1991 to cancel an election after it became clear that Islamists would win. “He is a real-life example of what has gone wrong over the years.”

    At the home in Heraoua, footsteps from the local police station, Mr Bechla’s children and his mother, Zohra, 82, were still in shock.

    “We are against terrorism, we are against this act,” said his oldest daughter, Hadra, 33, sitting on an embroidered cushion in a living room crammed with women, some crying, others shaking their heads. Behind her, on a wooden shelf, was a worn color photograph of Mr Bechla in his 40s, a serious-looking man with a graying beard and piercing blue eyes.

    “All we ask is that people also see the other side,” she said, turning her eyes to the photo. “My father was a victim, too.”

    He started out as an enthusiastic supporter of the governing National Liberation Front, whose French initials are F.L.N., the popular party born of the national liberation army, which won independence in 1962, Hadra said. But she said he grew increasingly disillusioned with an administration that failed to pass on the country’s energy riches to ordinary people.

    In 1990, the authorities denied Mr Bechla, who was illiterate, a taxi license when rheumatism and kidney problems made it impossible for him to continue working as a vegetable trader. “He felt betrayed, after his father had died for this country,” said another daughter, Assia, 28.

    A year later, in what was hailed as Algeria’s first free national election, the family said Mr Bechla voted with millions of Algerians for the Islamic Salvation Front, or F.I.S., an Islamist party, which campaigned promising generous welfare programs.

    But the army intervened to cancel the elections, and in the following years, Assia said, Mr Bechla learned of the arrests and torture of several sympathizers of the Islamist party in 1995, and decided to go into hiding in the eastern scrublands, where Islamist militants were active. “He said that he was not strong enough to stand torture,” Assia said.

    After several years without contact, the family heard about Mr Bechla through friends. His wife, Aisha, who has since died, met with him several times, bringing him medication for a worsening kidney problem and urging him to accept a government amnesty and come home.

    To hear his family tell it, Mr Bechla was not always at ease with the militants. “He wanted to come back but he was scared: scared of the government and scared of Al -Qaeda,” Assia said, referring to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, a militant group that includes Algerian Islamic militants. “He said it was out of his hands. He could not leave them.”

    On a tour of the small, impoverished house, Hadra said, “Al Qaeda has given us nothing,” disputing any notion that the militant group may have paid the family in compensation for the father’s suicide bombing. She was pointing at the makeshift oven in the kitchen and the plastic sheet that replaced a broken window in the bathroom. “We have nothing to do with them.”

    She said one of her sisters narrowly escaped the second bomb last week. A nephew of Mr Bechla’s was killed by Islamists some years ago, she said.

    Younes, one of Mr Bechla’s three sons, said, “We are caught in the middle of this.”

    He said initial reports that two of Mr Bechla’s sons had joined the militants and died in clashes with government forces were false.

    Athmane, the youngest son, was also in the house. Halfway through the afternoon, the third son, Mokhtar, called the family mobile phone and was put on speaker. He recounted to loud cheers that he had just made it to Melilla, the Spanish enclave in Morocco.

    “Some go to the mountains to join the terrorists, and some try to go to Europe,” Hadra said. “The country is rich, but the people are poor.”

    source : New York Times