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Massinissa Benlakehal

Tunis, Tunisia
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About Massinissa
Currently available for stories and interviews from Algeria + Tunisia, 

Freelancer after several years of staffing with newsrooms in Algeria, I'm currently fully available for news-gathering, photo-shooting, well equipped for the job. I mostly work on the NorthAfrican area, including both Algeria's capital and Tunisia's. Available for immediate covering of the region's regional and international issues: politics, society, conflicts and local development-related news/issues in the turbulent area of Sahel.

Beyond the focus on news-delivery purpose, I love digging on, research and grub up till the real story shows up.
Arabic English French
Video Package (Web / Broadcast) Interview (Video / Broadcast) Documentaries
Politics War Reporter Media Training

Al-Qaeda leader Mokhtar Belmokhtar 'dead and buried' in Libya

01 Oct 2023  |  The New Arab
Mokhtar Belmokhtar, a senior Al Qaeda operative in North Africa, was killed in a French airstrike in Libya and buried in the Ubari area. His death, previously unconfirmed, was reported by security sources. Belmokhtar, known for surviving multiple assassination attempts, was involved in arms deals and kidnappings. His group, weakened by financial issues, may join the Islamic State. The article details the impact of Al Qaeda in the region, including attacks and financing through kidnapping and arms smuggling.

Algerian immigrants detained in Libya after attempting Europe crossing

19 May 2023  |  newarab.com
Dozens of Algerian migrants are detained in Libyan detention centers after being intercepted by Libyan coastguards while attempting to cross to Europe. The group, which includes scores of Moroccans and Algerians, was picked up near Az-Zawiyah and held at the al-Nasr detention center before 22 Algerians were transferred to Tripoli's Tariq Essika detention center. Algerian authorities are in the process of deporting the migrants, who face prison sentences for illegal emigration and traveling to a conflict zone, as per Algerian law. Around 1,200 migrants were intercepted by the Algerian coastguard last year, with 85 held this year, and nearly 13,000 Algerians were picked up at European borders in 2014 according to Frontex.

Algeria's Shale Gas Protests: A Rare Sign of Dissent

15 Mar 2023  |  العربي الجديد
Algeria is facing widespread protests against the government's interest in shale gas exploration due to a drop in oil prices affecting the nation's economy. Despite the government's assurances that shale gas exploitation is not imminent, the public distrusts official statements. Protests began in late 2014 and have since spread across the country, with significant demonstrations in In Salah, Ouargla, and Algiers. The Coordination for Liberties and Democratic Transition (CLDT) has been leading the protests, which have been met with police force. Journalists Farid Abdeladim and Bouzid Ichalalen have reported on the movement, highlighting the government's attempts to suppress dissent and the protesters' determination to continue their fight.

Spreading Wildfires Kill at Least 37 People in Algeria

18 Aug 2022  |  www.nytimes.com
Fast-moving wildfires in northeastern Algeria have killed at least 37 people and injured dozens, with 118 fires across 21 provinces forcing over 300 people to flee their homes. The fires, exacerbated by extreme heat and strong winds, have been largely contained, but the death toll may rise. The interior minister attributed the fires to severe weather conditions, while the National Climate Center warned of increasing heat waves. The United Nations highlighted the heightened vulnerability of the world's poor to extreme weather. Rescue efforts continue, with significant public solidarity and government response.

Tunisian family of Nice church attacker refuses to believe son is guilty

09 Nov 2020  |  www.modernghana.com
The family of Brahim Aouissaoui, the 21-year-old Tunisian arrested for a knife attack in Nice, France, that resulted in three deaths, maintains his innocence. Aouissaoui was shot and wounded by police and is now hospitalized in Paris. His family, residing in Tunisia, has not received any information about his condition. Aouissaoui had no criminal record in Tunisia and was not known to be radicalized, though he had stopped drinking and smoking marijuana in late 2019. He arrived in France via Italy, where he had worked briefly after a period of medical isolation. Tunisian Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi condemned the attack, and Tunisian authorities are investigating a terrorist group that claimed responsibility for the incident.

Digging up the past of the Nice attacker, who killed three French citizens

06 Nov 2020  |  trtworld.com
Brahim Aouissaoui, a 21-year-old Tunisian man, allegedly killed three people in a knife attack in a church in Nice, France. Tunisian investigators found no evidence of radicalization in Tunisia, speculating that he may have been radicalized in Italy. Aouissaoui lived an ordinary life in Sfax, Tunisia, and had a history of selling contraband fuel. He quit drinking and smoking marijuana in late 2019, but showed no signs of extremism. Aouissaoui traveled to Italy and then to France, where he was shot by police and is currently hospitalized. His family denies his involvement in the attack, and French investigators have not yet interrogated him due to his health condition.

Tunisians refuse to back down as protests continue

12 Jan 2018  |  www.newarab.com
Tunisians continue to protest against austerity measures, with calls for renewed rallies and a nationwide march planned for the upcoming Sunday, coinciding with the seventh anniversary of the 2011 revolution. Violent protests have occurred throughout the week, resulting in nearly 800 detentions and one death, which authorities deny was caused by police. Amnesty International and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, have condemned the use of excessive force. The government accuses the opposition, particularly the Popular Front, of inciting violence, an accusation the opposition denies. Economic experts attribute austerity measures to the need to satisfy financial partners, citing decreased tourism and foreign investment.

Hundreds of refugees 'facing torture' inside Libyan detention centre

25 May 2017  |  The New Arab
Libyan coastguards intercepted over 450 migrants attempting to reach Europe, detaining them in the Al-Nasr detention facility in Al-Zawiyah. Among the detainees are 56 Algerians and over 400 Moroccans, who report dire conditions, including lack of food and medicine, and fear for their lives due to guards' intimidation tactics. The UN support mission in Libya highlights severe overcrowding, shortages of necessities, and no medical care in the detention center, with detainees facing torture and ill-treatment by the Department of Combatting Illegal Migration and armed groups.

Foreign countries need to stop interfering in Libya

15 Mar 2017  |  newarab.com
Abdulrahman Sewehli, president of the Libyan State Council, criticized foreign interference in Libyan affairs during an interview with The New Arab. He highlighted the negative consequences of such interference and suggested that if external support to rival groups ceased, Libya could resolve its problems internally. Sewehli discussed the role of various countries, including Russia and Italy, in Libyan politics but denied any one-sided support from Russia and exaggerated military presence of Italy in Libya. He emphasized the importance of following the Skhirat agreement for a political solution and the role of the Libyan State Council and the Tobruk-based House of Representatives in determining Libya's future.

Tunisia's security improvements remain relative, says senior military figure

16 Feb 2017  |  The New Arab
Tunisia's security situation has seen improvements but remains unstable, according to former brigadier-general Mohamed Meddeb. The state of emergency, extended for another three months, reflects ongoing threats from armed groups. Despite government assurances, human rights abuses and the return of Tunisian jihadists from conflict zones pose significant challenges. The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office advises against travel to Tunisia due to high terrorism risks, impacting tourism. The government is committed to addressing human rights issues and improving security, but the situation remains complex and evolving.

Anis Amri: The 'delinquent' who liked to party

23 Dec 2016  |  middleeasteye.net
Anis Amri, a 24-year-old Tunisian, is the alleged perpetrator of the Berlin attack that killed 12 people. Originally from Oueslatia, Tunisia, Amri was known to have had troubles with Tunisian justice before leaving for Italy in 2011. In Italy, he was imprisoned for arson and later moved to Germany, where he was suspected of being connected to Islamic State recruiter Abu Walaa. Despite his criminal past, those who knew him, including his family, are shocked by the allegations and remember him as someone who liked to party and had no religious beliefs. Amri was shot dead by police in Milan after the report was filed.

Polisario leader’s death is a loss for Africa

03 Jun 2016  |  newarab.com
Mohamed Abdelaziz, the late President of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic and leader of the Polisario Front, is remembered for his dedication to the Sahrawi people's struggle for independence from Moroccan occupation. Despite the failure of the United Nations to hold a promised referendum, Abdelaziz remained committed to peaceful resolution. His leadership saw the SADR gain recognition and membership in the African Union, and he was repeatedly elected to its leadership. Abdelaziz's governance promoted equality, with women enjoying the same rights as men, and resulted in high literacy rates among Sahrawis. His death is seen as a significant loss for Africa.

Independence movement gears up for armed struggle in Western Sahara

10 Mar 2016  |  Middle East Eye
Sahrawi refugees and leaders, frustrated by decades of harsh living conditions and stalled peace processes, are considering a return to armed resistance. The Polisario Front showcased their military strength during the 40th anniversary of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, signaling readiness for potential conflict. Despite international pressure and UN involvement, including a recent visit by Ban Ki-Moon, negotiations with Morocco remain stalled. The humanitarian crisis in refugee camps is worsening, with declining aid and increasing demands. Internal pressures and international isolation are pushing the Sahrawis towards renewed armed struggle.

Independence movement gears up for armed struggle in Western Sahara

09 Mar 2016  |  Middle East Eye
Sahrawi refugees and leaders, frustrated by decades of stalled negotiations and harsh living conditions in Algerian camps, are considering a return to armed resistance for Western Sahara's independence. The Polisario Front showcased its military strength during the 40th anniversary of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, signaling readiness for potential conflict. Despite international pressure and UN involvement, including a recent visit by Ban Ki-Moon, peace talks with Morocco remain stalled. The humanitarian crisis in the camps is worsening, with declining aid and increasing refugee numbers. Internal pressures and international isolation are pushing the Sahrawi towards renewed armed struggle.

Algerians express astonishment and dismay following Paris attacks

15 Nov 2015  |  Middle East Eye
Algeria, with its historical ties to Paris, has been deeply affected by the terrorist attacks in the French capital, leading to widespread shock and condemnation. The attacks, which resulted in at least 132 deaths and over 350 injuries, have resonated strongly with Algerians, many of whom have personal connections to France. The identification of one of the attackers, Omar Ismail Mostefai, as a Frenchman of Algerian origin, has sparked discussions about his background and potential links to Algeria. Algerian officials and experts have denied any training or radicalization occurring in Algeria. The attacks have also claimed the life of Khireddine Sahbi, an Algerian musician studying in Paris. The incident has reignited debates about the integration of the Muslim minority in France, which constitutes around 10% of the population.

Separating the military from political governance in Algeria

15 Oct 2015  |  العربي الجديد
The article by Massinissa Benlakehal discusses the recent reshuffles within the Algerian military intelligence service, DRS, following the retirement of General Mohamed Mediene, also known as General Toufik. President Bouteflika has spoken about these changes as a means to adapt the intelligence services to ongoing national political changes. The article suggests that there is an underlying power struggle between the presidential clan and the intelligence services. It also touches on the broader implications of these changes for Algeria's political system, economy, and the public's understanding of governance. The article includes perspectives from various individuals, including a former security officer, a shop owner, and a journalist, highlighting the complexities and potential consequences of the military's withdrawal from political life and the challenges facing Algeria, such as the need for a free judicial system and the impact of falling oil prices on the economy.

In Algerian desert, death ends migrants' hopes of a better life

15 Oct 2015  |  Middle East Eye
The article discusses the perilous journey of African migrants attempting to reach Europe through the Algerian desert. On May 4, 13 migrants were found dead near the Algeria-Niger border, with more than 90 deaths reported last October. The migrants, mostly from sub-Saharan Africa, are often abandoned by smugglers in harsh conditions. Algerian army forces and the Nigerien army launched rescue operations. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) expressed concern for the migrants' wellbeing and detailed their efforts to provide aid. The article also mentions recent incidents of migrants attempting to enter Europe through Spain and a boat sinking off Libya's coast. The Italian authorities reported a significant increase in migrant arrivals in 2014.

Terrorism fears derail Algeria's burgeoning tourist industry

15 Oct 2015  |  العربي الجديد
The article discusses the impact of the abduction and killing of French hiker Herve Gourdel by the Jund al-Khalifa group in Algeria's Kabylia mountains. The incident has reignited fears among Algerians, reminiscent of the country's civil war era. The group, which has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, is seen as a serious threat. The article also touches on skepticism among journalists and politicians regarding the government's role in the narrative of terrorism. The killing has had a detrimental effect on Algeria's tourism industry, particularly in the Saharan region, with many cancellations from foreign tourists following travel warnings. The local economy, which relies heavily on tourism, faces significant challenges due to the perceived security risks.

Algerians remember their own Hebdo outrage

15 Oct 2015  |  العربي الجديد
The article discusses the reaction in Algeria to the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris, drawing parallels to Algeria's own history of violence against journalists, particularly during the 'Black Decade' of the 1990s. It mentions a specific incident in 1994 where Hebdo Libere's office was attacked, resulting in the death of two individuals. The article highlights the ongoing danger to journalists in Algeria, noting that 58 journalists have been killed since 1992. It also touches on the Algerian origin of the Kouachi brothers, who carried out the Paris attacks, and the mixed reactions within Algeria, from condemnation to justification of the attacks. The piece underscores the lack of international attention to the plight of Algerian journalists compared to their French counterparts.

Desert Foxes offer distraction but also disclosure

15 Oct 2015  |  العربي الجديد
The article discusses the enthusiasm for football in Algeria, particularly during the African Cup of Nations, where the national team, the Desert Foxes, is competing. Despite heavy rain and late hours, fans in Algiers celebrated the team's victory against South Africa. However, in the southern city of Ghardaia, ethnic tensions between Berber Mozabites and Chaamba Arabs have dampened the celebrations. A Mozabite construction worker named Mustapha expresses his disinterest in the team, feeling it does not represent his community, especially after recent violent clashes. The article also touches on the anticipation and anxiety surrounding Algeria's upcoming matches, with fans showing a mix of confidence and concern.

Algeria's Opposition Stifled as Government Bans Key Conference

15 Oct 2015  |  العربي الجديد
Algerian authorities have blocked a conference of the Coordination for Liberties and Democratic Transition (CLDT), an opposition coalition, without public explanation, despite prior approval. Djilali Sofiane of the Jil Jadeed party, a CLDT faction, claims this is a political move to stifle serious opposition. The CLDT has called the ban unconstitutional and is organizing protests, including a march in Algiers and nationwide sit-ins against shale gas extraction in In Salah. The government remains unyielding, but the opposition's actions may test its popular support and the government's resolve. The CLDT, formed in 2012, seeks to end political stalemate and create a cohesive opposition, demanding a transitional government and electoral reforms, which the government has so far resisted.

Renewed fighting between Arabs and Berbers in Ghardaia has thrown doubt on government-backed peace efforts.

15 Oct 2015  |  Al Jazeera
Renewed clashes in Ghardaia, Algeria, between Berber Mozabites and Chaamba Arabs have cast doubt on the effectiveness of government-led peace efforts. The conflict, rooted in ethnic tensions and competition over resources, has escalated with recent violence involving high school students, resulting in deaths, injuries, and property damage. Despite a peace agreement in 2008 and various government attempts at reconciliation, the situation remains unresolved. The violence has also damaged historic sites in Ghardaia's M'zab valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Local leaders express skepticism about the state's role and the prospects for a lasting solution. The government's recent measures, including a proposition to build 30,000 houses, have been criticized as insufficient to address the deeper issues at play.

Algeria Moves against Local ISIS-Loyal Fighters

New Challenges Emerge in Tunisia’s Fight against Terrorism:

Tunisian Soldier Kills Comrade Raising Terror Concern: Seven servicemen have been killed in Tunisia in what appears to have been an insider attack by a fellow soldier, last May 2015.

Army deployed to quell Arab-Berber conflict after fighting in the province kills or injures scores of residents.

15 Oct 2015  |  Al Jazeera
The article reports on the deployment of the Algerian army to the Ghardaia province following deadly clashes between Mozabite Berbers and Chaamba Arabs, which resulted in over 20 deaths and 300 injuries. The conflict, rooted in historical land disputes and ethnic tensions, has escalated despite previous government efforts to mediate. The article includes perspectives from local officials, a researcher, and community members, highlighting the complexity of the situation and the challenges in achieving a lasting resolution. The government's response, including the arrest of community leaders and a ban on public demonstrations, is also discussed.

Algeria: Retirement of the World’s Longest Serving Intelligence Chief

Recent high-profile arrests and re-organisation of the military and counter-terrorism agencies do not mean Bouteflika is preparing for a putsch, says security expert.

10 Sep 2015  |  العربي الجديد
The article discusses the arrest of Algeria's former anti-terrorism chief, Abdelkader Ait-Ouarab, also known as General Hassan, and the reorganisation of the country's military and counter-terrorism agencies. Security expert Ali Zaoui refutes the speculation that President Abdelaziz Bouteflika is preparing for a power struggle or a putsch, emphasizing that the arrest and changes within the military are not indicative of internal power consolidation. Zaoui warns that misinterpretations of these events could deter foreign investment and cause economic harm. He also explains that the restructuring is part of a modernisation effort to professionalise the military and remove it from domestic political life. The article also touches on the DRS intelligence agency's loss of power to conduct judicial probes into corruption and the reallocation of the Special Intervention Group (GIS) to the ministry of defence.

Algeria opts out of pan-Arab military force, citing domestic focus

01 Apr 2015  |  العربي الجديد
Algeria has decided not to join a unified pan-Arab military force, opting instead to provide limited logistical support. The country has a history of counter-terrorism efforts, particularly during the 1990s, and is focused on maintaining security within its own borders, which include regions adjacent to unstable neighbors like Libya, Mali, Niger, and Tunisia. Political analyst Hocine Bellaloufi explains that Algeria's cautious approach is due to the potential sectarian nature of conflicts in the region and the desire to avoid military entanglements abroad. Algeria's foreign minister, Ramtane Lamamra, has stated that while Algeria will not send troops outside its borders, it may offer logistical support. The country's stance is influenced by its past experiences with terrorism and its priority on national security over regional military initiatives.

New Round of Protests Hits Algerian Universities

17 Dec 2014  |  Al-Fanar Media
Algerian universities have been experiencing increasing unrest, with students, professors, and administrators expressing discontent since the early 2000s. The recent protests have intensified over the past four years, with students demanding better conditions and recognition of their degrees. The unrest is part of broader societal issues, including demands for housing and infrastructure. A significant point of contention is the non-recognition of the LMD master's degree by employers and professional associations. Protests have occurred in various universities, including the University of Constantine and the Mouloud Mammeri University of Tizi-ouzou, where students are also protesting against the reduction of psychiatric residency positions and poor conditions at the medical school.

In Algerian desert, death ends migrants' hopes of a better life

11 May 2014  |  Middle East Eye
The Algerian desert has become a deadly trap for African migrants attempting to reach Europe, with 13 found dead near Algeria's border with Niger. Smugglers often abandon migrants in harsh conditions, leading to numerous deaths. Recent rescue operations by Algerian and Nigerien forces have highlighted the severity of the crisis. Humanitarian organizations like the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Red Cross Society of Niger are providing essential aid to migrants. The situation is exacerbated by ongoing conflicts in sub-Saharan Africa, pushing more people to undertake perilous journeys.

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