Algeria: Why The Smugglers Shun Al Qaeda

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December 12, 2013: Additional soldiers and police are patrolling the Tunisian and Libyan borders to keep Islamic terrorists out and to look for terrorist camps or supply caches. The most difficult border is the 960 kilometers long one with Tunisia. That’s because it is near the coast, where most of the population, roads, and Islamic terrorist hideouts in forests of the coastal mountains are. Further south you have fewer roads, people, and trees to hide the smugglers and terrorists. In the desert regular ground and air patrols have a good chance of spotting trucks that are typically used for valuable goods, like weapons and explosives for Islamic terrorists, who pay a lot of money to get this stuff across the border. The borders with Libya, Niger, and Mali are largely in the Sahara desert, which offers few places to hide and large distances to be crossed before you reach anything of value. There are few roads and these are patrolled and monitored by checkpoints. This has become a major problem for the Islamic terrorists. The northern routes near the Mediterranean are not much safer, mainly because most of the professional smugglers (who make a living a sneaking goods across the border) won’t deal with Islamic terrorists and let the army and police know this. That enables bribes to be paid, but only if the smuggling group (often family or clan organizations) keeps its word. The terrorists are always offering large bonuses to smugglers, but few want to endanger their livelihood for a one time score. Moreover, other smugglers will turn in those among them who deal with terrorists, so as to avoid a police crackdown on the entire group and area where Islamic terrorists or weapons are found getting in. The smugglers know that even if you get past the border zone you are not safe because the Algerian patrols continue all along the coast and the security forces are always looking for evidence (especially from terrorists or criminals they can interrogate) about smuggling activity. Thus smugglers regard dealing Islamic terrorists or weapons as toxic. The police know this and, in effect, put less pressure on “clean” smuggling in order to make it more difficult for “dirty” smuggling to take place at all. This has made life very hard for Islamic terrorists in Algeria.

December 4, 2013: In the southern desert the army picked up the trail of an AQIM ( Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb) leader and three companions. The army wanted to capture the man (Khalil Ould Addah, number three in the AQIM leadership) alive, but when it appeared he might escape through the desert during the night, ordered a helicopter to fire on the two SUVs Addah and his followers were in. Their bodies were later found and some useful intel was recovered. The two SUVs had come from northern Mali and Addah was believed headed for a meeting of the AQIM leadership somewhere in Algeria.

December 2, 2013: Just across the border in Tunisia one soldier was killed and another wounded by an Islamic terrorist landmine near the Mount Chaambi. Tunisian border police and soldiers have spent nearly a year hunting for several dozen Islamic terrorists operating near the Kasserine Pass and Mount Chaambi in the Atlas Mountains just across the border. Tunisian security personnel are searching a hundred square kilometers of sparsely populated forests and mountains without much success. This is the first time Tunisia has had to deal with armed Islamic terrorists since 2007. These armed men have been active in the area since January. Some of these terrorists fled Mali after the January 2013 French advance into northern Mali and others are from Algeria. Tunisia has had more success arresting or killing Islamic terrorists who have shown up in urban areas this year and is still finding evidence of some hiding out in the Atlas Mountains.

 

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