Algeria: Thousands of Terrorists Set Free


March 5, 2006: The government pardoned some 2,000 Islamic terrorists, and released them from prison over the weekend. This was a sign of victory, not defeat. It is all part of the amnesty deal with the terrorists, that sets free captured terrorists, and those who surrender. The only exceptions are those who are known to have committed murder. Terrorist activity has declined sharply over the last year, while the number of terrorists who have accepted amnesty, and surrendered, has gone up.

In 14 years of fighting the terrorists, over 150,000 people died, mostly as victims of terror attacks on civilians. This all began when the Islamic radicals won elections in 1992, and the old revolutionaries, who had run things since the French left three decades earlier, refused to step aside. The Islamic radicals won the vote because they promised clean government. The old revolutionaries had eventually become corrupt and entrenched. This is a common pattern world-wide. The old revolutionaries, and their many accomplices, feared retribution from the Islamic radicals, who had the mandate of the people and a known sense of justice.

There was no major backlash from Western or Moslem nations when the old revolutionaries refused to accept the results of the election. That was because the example of Iran was still fresh. During the 1980s, Islamic radicals got themselves elected in Iran, and then used their position to change to laws to insure that they could not be voted out of office. It was an example of how a democratic election could produce a dictatorship. The Western democracies despaired of there ever being functional democracy in the Middle East. The Middle Eastern dictators saw the Algerian experience as proof that democracy and Islamic radicalism are both bad for the Islamic world. This fueled widespread (in the Middle East) belief, at least among those in power, that dictatorship was good.

Algeria is having elections again, and the Islamic radicals no longer have the support of a majority of the voters. The government is still corrupt, and the people are still unhappy. There will be another revolution. Probably not led by Islamic radicals, but there is no shortage of angry Algerians, willing to try something new to get a decent government.

Meanwhile, thousands of Algerian Islamic radicals are in exile, mainly in Europe. There, some are pursued by police and intelligence agencies, while most keep their heads down. Some are apparently reconsidering their life goals. There's not much future in Islamic terrorism.


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