September 14, 2006: Al Qaeda, and the main Algerian Islamic terror group, the GSPC, announced they have joined forces. This was made public an al Qaeda video. The alliance was not a surprise to intelligence agencies in Algeria and France. The two organizations have been cooperating for some time. This is a big come-down for the GSPC, which was a much bigger deal in the 1990s than al Qaeda. The GSPC led the battle to take control of Algeria from a secular dictatorship, and turn it over to a religious dictatorship. Some 200,000 people have died in 14 years of violence. But now GSPC is beaten down to a still shrinking core of survivors. A year ago there were about a thousand active GSPC members in Algeria, now there are less than half that number, plus about the same number in exile, and still active. There are also thousands of former members in exile, mainly in France, and these are the ones that have Europeans, especially the French, worried.
Fortunately, France has infiltrated GSPC cells inside France. Not too difficult to do, because one reason for the demise of GSPC was its factionalism and paranoia. Many GSPC losses were self inflicted, as internal struggles left many members dead from friendly fire. Al Qaeda and GSPC members have cooperated in the past, this new announcement makes the arrangement formal, and basically signals the end of GSPC. Al Qaeda has become the collector of lost souls in the world of Islamic terrorism. Its superior PR and fund raising capabilities have kept al Qaeda in the public eye, and that public includes other Islamic terrorist groups that are being picked apart by counter-terrorism efforts. While there is much media talk about increased recruiting for terrorist groups, the reality is that organized terrorist groups are fading away because of all the police attention. It's a war out there, and despite lots of enthusiasm among young Moslems, the police are inflicting far more casualties (dead and imprisoned terrorists) that the terrorists are creating victims. At least in the West. In Moslem countries, and those with large Moslem minorities, there is far more violence. For over a decade, countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Algeria and Sudan have been suffering from religious violence, with Islamic radicals the chief offenders. In Iraq, Pakistan and Algeria, the battle was between secular government and Islamic radicals. The overthrow of Saddam in 2003 simply saw a Shia secular government replacing a Sunni one, and the Islamic terrorists switching from Shia to Sunni. This put al Qaeda in the lead, a role it will now play in Algeria, France and other European nations that have given refuge to Islamic radicals fleeing the fighting in Algeria.
September 3, 2006: Islamic terrorists ambushed a patrol and killed four policemen.
The exiled leaders of FIS, the major Islamic party in the 1990s war with the government, have returned from exile. FIS made peace with the government, and is trying to get permission to again operate as a political party. The secular government fears this because, while the Islamic terrorists are defeated, there are still many Islamic conservatives who remain unhappy with the corrupt government.