Attorney General Eric Holder was in Africa Wednesday for the signing of a legal assistance treaty between the U.S. and Algeria, a country that has seen an increase in terrorist attacks and organized crime.
Holder said the treaty was “truly comprehensive in its scope,” covering all crimes and a range of assistance, including witness statements, physical evidence, bank and business records.
“The proliferation of both terrorism and traditional criminal acts across national borders makes international cooperation essential to bringing to justice those who threaten our safety and security,” Holder said in statement announcing the treaty. “Algeria is an important partner in the fight against terrorism and transnational crime. This treaty will help us ensure that terrorists and other criminals are not able to avoid justice by simply hiding evidence beyond our borders.”
Al-Qaeda’s North African offshoot has been active in the Saharan desert region, taking foreigners hostage, planting roadside bombs and staging suicide attacks in Algeria and elsewhere. The Associated Press reported in March that U.S. defense and counterterrorism experts see the faction, which calls itself al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, as a growing threat.
The group’s increasing capabilities, U.S. experts told the AP, is reminiscent of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which transformed from militants with a regional focus into a potent group capable of orchestrating terror missions inside the U.S.
The U.S. has signed more than 50 bilateral mutual legal assistance treaties (MLATs) with law enforcement counterparts around the world, the Justice Department said.
A copy of the U.S.-Algeria MLAT is embedded below.