Algerian 'terrorist hunter' to lead fight against corruption

General Tartag, implacable enemy of Islamists

11 April, 18:33

    (ANSAmed) - TUNIS, APRIL 11 - President Abdelaziz Bouteflika had promised to give no quarter to those growing wealthy through illicit means, and Algeria has now taken up arms against the blight of corruption tearing mercilessly at the country's image.

    To bring the perpetrators to justice it has called up a general known for conducting a no-holds-barred war on Islamic extremism since the 1990s.

    General Bachir Tartag has been placed at the head of a group of investigators to rout out those guilty of corruption. If he uses the same methods he did during the civil war against Islamists - methods famous for their effectiveness and brutality - corruption may stand a chance of being wiped out, and fast.

    The Algerian government's decision might seem one designed simply for photo ops, but those familiar with General Tartag know well that the officer will not simply play his role in front of video cameras: he will be taking the offensive with any and all legal means available to him, as is his wont.

    Algerian leaders hope that the years have not mellowed the ferocity with which Tartag - whose enemies consider him a war criminal - has always carried out the missions he has been entrusted with since the early 1990s, when Algeria did not simply have guerrilla fighters on its hands but a true civil war. It was a war won in the end, but one in which many lost their lives. His achievements, whatever the case may be, endowed him with almost hero status in the eyes of most Algerians. A few months ago his fame grew even more when he led the Directorate for Internal Security (DSI) with an iron hand. It was a personal success made possible by the physical elimination of dozens of Islamists, including many leaders and especially those from the Tizi Ouzou-Boumerdes-Bouira triangle, which until his arrival was the undisputed kingdom of the bloodiest jihadist factions.

    Now, at the head of the Algerian state intelligence service, the DRS, he has a single objective: rout out the corrupt, whatever role and rank they might hold. The most widely held concern is that the judiciary is ill-equipped to deal with the problem. This is an issue that General Tartag knows well how to resolve, by first and foremost cleaning up his own field and recruiting policemen beyond suspicion, who he can set loose on those getting rich through illicit means. There are those who expect Bachir Tartag will soon rack up a great deal of enemies.

    Others say he won't last long. He, on the other hand - as taciturn as ever - has already set out to do whatever is in the State's best interest. Come what may. (ANSAmed).

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