On Saturday, September 3, the Algerian army chief of staff installed one of the country’s most maligned generals, Djebbar M’henna, at the head of the very unstable Directorate of Documentation and External Security. (DDSE). He is indeed the 4th general to hold this position between May and August 2022.
While the appointment of a new director of military intelligence was expected, when General Sid Ali ould Zmirli had just been “resigned” from the Central Directorate of Army Security (DCSA), we were treated to a major surprise. The current head of the anti-subversion directorate, General Djebbar M’henna, has been appointed head of the documentation and external security directorate, which he will combine with his previous post.
What is first surprising in this new crossover of appointments and dismissals of generals is the chronic instability experienced by Algerian foreign intelligence since the coming to power of the duo Abdelmadjid Tebboune, Head of State , and General Said Chengriha, Chief of Staff of the Army. In less than three years, the DDSE has had 6 successive bosses, four of whom have succeeded in the last four months.
When he parachuted into the Algerian presidency in December 2019, Tebboune found Colonel Remili Kamel-Eddine at the head of the DDSE, where he was appointed in April 2019. On April 16, 2020, he was replaced by General Mohamed Bouzit , alias Youcef, dismissed from his post nine months later, in January 2021, before being imprisoned on September 7 of the same year. His post goes to a general, retired for 6 years, Noureddine Mekri (72), alias “Mahfoud polisario”.
On May 14, 2022, another retired general, Djamel Kehal Medjdoub was promoted to new head of the DDSE, replacing “Mahfoud”, eaten away, it is said, by illness. On July 20, 2022, Abdelghani Rachedi leaves the General Directorate of Internal Security (DGSI), which he has been leading since April 2020, following the arrest of General Wassini Bouazza, and takes control of the DDSE, thus swapping with Kehal , who only spent 67 days as head of foreign intelligence. But Rachedi, hospitalized in emergency in Paris last August, will also have accomplished only 45 days at the head of the said DDSE.
However surprising it may be, the appointment of Djebbar M’henna as head of the DDSE is not that illogical. This 73-year-old general is a pure product of the former Department of Intelligence and Security (DRS). As such, he is one of the henchmen of the powerful retired general, Mohamed Médiène dit Toufik, whom he served during the dark decade of the 90s. Djebbar M’henna was best known for being behind the foot of the two “false enemies” who bloodied Algeria. He thus created and armed both the men of the Islamist “maquis” and those of the “legitimate defense groups” who fought against them. In 1995, he was appointed by “Toufik” to head the Central Directorate of Army Security, with a view to keeping control of the military command. Position where he will remain until 2013.
Fallen into disgrace following the fall of Toufik, imprisoned by the former chief of staff, General Gaid Salah, Djebbar M’henna will in turn go through prison until July 2020. With the return to force of the Toufik-Khaled Nezzar clan, Djebbar M’henna resumes service again. It is almost on the sly that a new direction is created for him, that of the anti-subversion struggle, which aims to counter the activists of Hirak and other opponents of the regime of the “new Algeria”. It is also whispered in Algeria that it is this son of Kabylia who terrorized the Hirak by knowingly triggering, during the summer of 2021, the deadly forest fires, also marked by the troubled assassination of Djamel Bensmail, a young Hirak activist.
Since then, Djebbar M’henna began to appear in meetings of the Algerian High Security Council, before appearing on August 26 at the mini security conclave which brought together, in Algiers, Emmanuel Macron with Abdelmadjid Tebboune, flanked by the army chief of staff and three other generals directing various intelligence services (DDSE, DGSI, Anti-subversion). The French president thus found himself faced with the “politico-military system”, in flesh and blood, of the gerontes he had decried a few months earlier.
It is this old Algerian politico-military system which seems to be going through strong internal and external turbulence today, as reflected in the instability of its intelligence services. The appointment of Djebbar M’henna as head of the DDSE comes at the very time when another Algerian intelligence department is experiencing unprecedented upheaval. General Sid Ali Ould Zmirli, head of the Central Directorate of Army Security (DCSA), has just spent several hours of interrogation at the Main Operations Center (CPO), under the DGSI and antechamber of the prison. military of Blida. He was called upon to explain the leaks of ultra-confidential information concerning the Algerian secret services. These leaks would be the work of a network led by his brother, retired colonel, Omar Ould Zmirli, and composed of 9 other officers.
Among the misdeeds attributed to this “network of conspirators”, the disclosure of “sensitive information undermining the security of the State”, such as the fact of delivering the complete identity of the alleged “computer authority” who managed the ” flies”, or “server” of Algerian intelligence. These include, among other things, the disclosure of the name of the engineer-commander, Salaheddine Gharbi, a computer scientist who first worked under the orders of Wassini Bouazza, before being maintained and dubbed by General Abdelghani Rachedi at the DGSI, where Kehal also kept it.
Everything suggests that prison awaits both Sid’Ali Ould Zmirli and Abdelghani Rachedi. At this rate, Algerian generals will soon be either prisoners or ex-con. Their endless struggles and settling of accounts cut the Algerian army to pieces.