In the last ten days, operations
against terrorists have left about three dozen dead, most of them terrorists.
There were also several dozen arrests, as police continued to track down those
responsible for recent bombings and attacks. One of those attacks was on
foreigners working in Algeria. In response to that, and al Qaeda threats to
concentrate on going after foreigners, the French company Michelin has ordered
the families, of its French executives and technicians, back to France. This is
only about a hundred people, but the places where the families live would be
difficult to guard, given the al Qaeda willingness to use suicide bombers. The
Michelin factory will remain open. This plant provides jobs to nearly a
thousand Algerians and is an important economic symbol. Michelin shut down its
Algerian operations in 1993, when the war with Islamic terrorists was getting
underway. Four years ago, the Michelin plant re-opened, and more foreign firms
are coming in. Al Qaeda is trying to keep them out.
But the biggest development this week was the death
of Sofiane Abu Fasila, the second in command for Al Qaeda in the Islamic
Maghreb. Fasila was the guy who ran day-to-day operations, and was the chief
planner of the recent terror attacks. Fasila was caught at a police
checkpoint, and tried to shoot his way through, with two associates. All three
terrorists were killed. Fasila was responsible for the use of suicide bombing
in Algeria, a tactic that Islamic terrorists had not previously used there.
This tactic angered a lot of Algerians, and made it easier for the police to
track down the terrorists responsible for the attacks of the last two months.
These have left over sixty people, mostly civilians, dead. This is a mistake
Islamic terrorists make again and again. If they kill a lot of civilians, they
turn more civilians into police informers. Without solid support from the
general population, it's only a matter of time before the terrorist cells are
hunted down and destroyed.
The Internet has made it
easier for terrorists from many different areas to keep in touch, and reform
terrorist cells destroyed in a country. That's how the Algerian terrorist
organizations recovered from the huge losses of the last five years. But the
Internet also makes it easier to monitor terrorist operations. While some
communications never get revealed to intelligence agencies, the terrorists
never know exactly which aspects of their plans are known to the police. The
end result is that it's nearly impossible to carry out a large scale terrorist
campaign, using the Internet for communications. But it is possible to organize
smaller operations, such as the recent movement of terrorist reinforcements,
and bomb making materials, into Algeria. The violence here could go on for
years, especially if the Islamic terrorists continue to get cash from wealthy
patrons in the Persian Gulf region.