Algeria'sDarth Vader

Lieutenant-General Mohamed Mediene, aka "Toufik," is the most powerful man in Algeria with a security apparatus of over 100,000 agents. Yet with no official picture of him ever made public, Algerians have no idea what this shadowy leader even looks like.

Lieutenant-General Mohamed Mediene, aka "Toufik," is the most powerful man in Algeria with a security apparatus of over 100,000 agents. Yet with no official picture of him ever made public, Algerians have no idea what this shadowy leader even looks like.

Indisputably, 73 year-old Lieutenant-General Mohamed Lamine Médiène is now the most powerful man in Algeria. Since 1990 he has headed the sprawling DRS (a French acronym for “Intelligence and Security Directorate”), Algeria’s secret service. Five presidents of the republic have come and gone, yet Médiène - known by his alias “Toufik” - remains, seemingly irremovable. Due his professional longevity, Toufik has been compared to John Edgar Hoover, the legendary FBI director. But today’s Algerian Hoover has more power than his American predecessor ever did. Imagine Hoover with control over the FBI and at the same time the CIA, NSA, and Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA)!

The centralized DRS, in the hands of its boss Toufik,  works as the core processor of “the power” or "le pouvoir", the cryptic term Algerians use to designate the military nomenklatura who run the country. The system remains difficult to decipher, even for the most discerning connoisseurs of Algeria. The best way to describe how "le pouvoir" operates is to compare it to a chess game. As its public head, President of the Republic Abdelaziz Bouteflika stands at the center of media attention. Yet he is not the one who has the greatest operational capability. Like the king of the chessboard, Bouteflika’s strength lies in the coordination of other pieces on the chessboard rather than his sole, intrinsic ability to change the course of the game. But make no mistake: the president is not a puppet—like a king is not a pawn. To officially serve the presidential king, a team of senior official as knights, bishops of exacerbated nationalism, security rooks... and an omnipresent and omnipotent queen. Here is Lt-General Toufik.

Eminence grise of “le pouvoir” for over twenty years, Toufik has been close to the inner system for over half a century, since Algeria’s independence struggle. Yet despite decades at the center of power, his personality and career remain shrouded by a dense fog. For one, he does not even have a public face. Four or five pictures of him circulate widely and wildly on the Internet - with a significant problem. Close examination of the facial features reveals that the photos are of several different people, including two different officials photographed at the same ceremony. Which is Toufik? No one can say with certainty or hard proof. 

Mediene 1
France 24WHERE'S WALDO? -- LEAD 1:
Screenshot from archive video, broadcast in a documentary by France 24 channel, showing late Algerian president Mohamed Boudiaf's arrival from exile at Algiers airport on Jan 16, 1992. Lined-up to greet him, the top brass of Algeria's military: from left to right, generals Mohamed Lamari, Larbi Belkheir and Benabbes Gheziel. The man in brown civil suit is alleged to be Mohamed Mediene, aka Toufik. 

Finding Toufik has become a Where's Waldo-type game: whenever a film or an archive emerges and an unknown face is seen among senior officials, the Algerian blogosphere hastens to declare it a new Toufik face. The rumor, according journalist Chawki Amari, is that the Lt-General "always receives people in his office with his back turned - if you see his face, this is the last time you see someone in your life."

Such "Darth Vader" (1) behavior contributes greatly to the legend that surrounds Toufik. 

Ship’s Boy in the Merchant Navy

Journalist Mohamed Sifaoui offered the most credible investigation on the career of Toufik (2). He wrote that Mohamed Médiène was born in a Kabyle family in 1939 in Timezrit (in the district of Boumerdes). His family moved to Algiers, where the young Médiène grew up. As a teenager, he did various small jobs before being hired as ship’s boy in the French merchant navy. He was serving at sea in 1954 when Algeria’s “War of Liberation” broke out against French colonialism.

In 1957, when his boat docked in a Libyan port, Médiène disembarked for an unexpected new life, joining the nationalist movement led by the National Liberation Front (FLN). In Tunisia, he received military training at the age of 18 years before being assigned to a combat unit on the Algerian-Tunisian border. According Sifaoui, his role was to facilitate the passage of weapons and fighters into Algerian territory. In this capacity he met Khaled Nezzar, a future feneral and Minister of Defense; Chadli, a future president; as well as many senior leaders of independent Algeria.

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#4 Abdul 2014-03-20 21:38
Mohamed Mediene, aujourd'hui âgé de 73 ans, serait l'homme en costume marron sur la photo... Pourquoi pas...
Cette photo daterait du 16 01 1992. Il y a donc 22 ans.
Mohamed Mediene avait donc alors 51 ans.

Regardez bien cette photo :
- Croyez-vous que cet homme en costume marron a effectivement 51 ans, ou ne lui donneriez-vous pas 10 ans de moins ?
- A t-il le visage d'un Algérien, ou d'un pâlichon Européen ?

Que penser de tout ceci ?

Du "Flan"... pour faire du "Vent"...
 
 
#3 boukhemis 2013-10-13 08:43
I see the leader of algeria, he is the best hero for our country. Mr. Toufik is the one and only strong and intelligent General of the DRS who can provide true security for Algeria. Bravo!!
 
 
#2 Hannibal 2013-05-07 11:11
At least we see the King of Morocco for what he is - a Monarch of a Kingdom. The Moroccan people are left to decide if this system is anachronistic or not, proper or improper, a thing to be toppled or legitimate. Algeria is different: It maintains this charade of being a Republic, even though it has one unelected and hidden true ruler, whose rule is as absolute as the one in Morocco, despite being less transparent and honest about it.
 
 
#1 Abdel 2013-03-04 10:54
En réalité, le Lt General Toufik n'est qu'un roi nu. Les services de rensignement on eu beau faire étalage de leur puissance comme en Union Soviétique, ou de leur infiltration de la société comme en RDA (film "la vie des autres"), ils tomberont quand les Algériens le décideront (mais à l'évidence, le changement, c'est pas pour maintenant). On peut, toute proportion gardée, réver d'une révolution de velour ou d'une situation invraisemblable , le système tout d'un coup faisant pshiit comme dans cette vidéo http://www.ina.fr/video/CAC02068745. Yeltsin, au détour d'une digression, et à l'issue d'une passe d'armes feutrée en 3 actes, plante une banderille et signe la fin du PC de la Russie.
Ps: Free Arabs doesn't address to arabs of North Africa. Most of them don't speak (such) english. (Note FA: sorry for editing bug)