The defining feature of the GIA’s [Groupe Islamiste Armé] war was its ultra-violent methods. The terrorists did not simply kill people but turned the murders into a form of performance or ritual. As in the original War of Independence, throats were slit and heads cut off. But now spectacular refinements were introduced: often the victim’s tongue was cut off and tied around a severed head (this was in homage to a technique employed by Colombian drug cartels); heads were also impaled on poles at crossroads and along the roadside, where trees and bushes were draped in entrails as a grotesque and chilling decoration. Policemen returning home were greeted by the sight of their wife’s head hanging from a pole by its hair. The carnage carried a message: Algerians who did not fight for the Islamist cause were non-Muslims and deserved to die.

Andrew Hussey, “The French Intifada: The Long War Between France and its Arabs”.

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