The comments posted on the articles about the CIA chief turned rapist are more interesting than the articles in the Algerian press themselves, especially given that most of them rely primarily on AFP articles for sources. The coverage ranges from bland to slightly inflammatory. The comments are universally grumpy, with attitudes differing from paper to paper and from Arabic comments to French comments, though patriarchal attitudes are found throughout. Unlike American reports, which emphasize that the victims were Muslims, the Algerian reports emphasize that the victims had dual European nationalities. There is consensus that the women hold Spanish and German nationality and at least one of them also holds Algerian nationality. Their religion is not mentioned. Warren’s is, as is the fact that he spoke Arabic, as well as “Afghani” (Pashto?), and converted to Islam.
El Khabar points out that according to unnamed sources the victims were not Algerians, but rather Spanish and German women married to Algerians. El Moudjahid‘s article is brief and seems to be made up of a smattering of reports from American media sources, even aping graphics (notice that Algeria is labeled as “Algeria” and not Algerie on that map in the picture). El Watan‘s piece is also bland, but the comments reflect disgust, traditional indifference towards the victims, and with some misogynist perspectives interwoven into comments concerned with the lack of a properly function judicial system in Algeria (arguing that Warren, the rapist, should not have been let out of the country) or other grievances with the overall situation in the country. The victims are “unworthy” in one. El Watan‘s main article on the rapist differs from El Khabar’s in that it describes El Khabar‘s German victim as “une Algérienne, détentrice d’un passeport allemand”. It also describes Warren in an almost sympathetic way, highlighting his piety and his African American origin.
Converti à l’islam, il a fait preuve d’une grande habileté à s’attacher la sympathie de la communauté musulmane dans les pays où il a eu à exercer son métier. D’abord en Afghanistan, où il a été expédié au lendemain de l’invasion US conséquente aux attentats du 11 septembre. Là-bas, Warren s’est senti, semble-t-il, comme un poisson dans l’eau. Parlant l’arabe et l’afghan, capable de réciter des versets du Coran, il n’hésitait pas à participer aux prières, surtout celles du vendredi. Affecté à l’ambassade US au Caire, il aurait également fait preuve d’une grande habileté. Sa nomination comme chef de l’antenne de la CIA à Alger était-elle une promotion ? Nul ne le sait. Une chose est sûre : Andrew Warren n’est pas un inconnu des services de renseignement algériens. Avec eux, il a étroitement collaboré dans le cadre de la lutte contre le terrorisme. Un bon espion promis à un bel avenir ? « C’est exactement l’homme qu’il faut », dit de lui un haut responsable américain qui s’est exprimé sous le couvert de l’anonymat et qui l’avait rencontré l’été dernier, peu de temps avant que le scandale ne soit porté à la connaissance de ses supérieurs. C’est un Afro-Américain, un musulman, il parle arabe et semble avoir de l’expérience. Warren, un espion modèle ? Peut-être, mais ses incartades risquent d’avoir des conséquences incalculables sur l’image des services de renseignement américains et, au-delà, celle de l’Amérique, au moment même où le nouveau président américain tente de refonder les relations entre les Etats-Unis et les pays musulmans.
Liberte mentions that the Algerian government has been quiet on the problem because the presence of CIA officers in the country “was never mentioned” until last year (TSA discusses the comments of an Algerian intelligence official who says that the CIA presence in Algeria dates back 20 years, and was important during the civil war, though the Americans still refused to sell weapons to the Algerians but put less pressure on the government during the conflict.). It wonders how Warren could have been so ready to leave so much evidence in his residence, his computer and in his office (where contraceptive pills were found).
[. . .] How can we imagine a spy chief to commit rape in this way…? Alcohol, drugs, money and sex are known, the ultimate weapons of all spies. How is that he was caught in his own game and, moreover, leaving (video) evidence of his actions?
Many papers seem to believe that there is something fishy about the incidents. On Ech-Chorouk‘s website, whose website lists its most popular articles, the Warren article ranks fourth, behind a story about Erdogan’s Davos walk-out. Headlines there describe the attack as “shocking” and the article mentions the “very sophisticated mobile phone” with which he recorded his rapes. Comments there are harsh. “A malignant curse of God be upon him and the girls who went with him” others asking “what should we expect from the Americans?”
Update: Ennahar has several articles on the Warren case. It describes one of the victims as being of dual Spanish and Algerian nationality, married to a Spanish journalist, indicating that she is a “native” Algerian; Ennahar describes the other as being of “German nationality and probably in the process of recruiting within the US intelligence apparatus.” It emphasizes Warren’s facility in speaking Arabic and his being an African American convert to Islam. Another article reports a meeting between Algerian defense officials and the American Ambassador in which “issues of common concern” were addressed. Similarities between Warren “an Afro-American Muslim” and President Obama “also of Islamic and African origin” are made along the lines of connecting the Washington Times article about plague wiping out 40 AQIM members and the present scandal. It speculates that someone is trying to frustrate Obama’s efforts to reach out to the Arab and Muslim worlds. (Surprisingly, it does not mention that talk about the President’s al-Arabiyya interview are largely absent from Arab newspapers. Is Ennahar in on the plot?)