Algeria: Where Islamic Terrorists Are Not The Biggest Problem

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February10, 2007: Government corruption, and use of police to stifle opposing views, keeps the population restless. There are still enough desperate young men around to maintain the strength (a few hundred men) of the al Qaeda (formerly GSPC) terrorists in eastern Algeria. Another hundred or so GSPC (now al Qaeda) diehards hang on in the south, moving across the desert border between Mali and Algeria. 

Getting to Europe is still a goal for many young Algerians, and when they get there, they have little incentive to get involved in Islamic terrorism. In the last five years, European police have arrested over 4,000 terrorist suspects, and nearly all have been guys talking big and doing little. Some of those picked up were hard core, and most of them are now out of circulation. Rather than plot bombings in Europe, many of the terrorists recruited young men to go train and fight in Pakistan and Iraq. Those going to Iraq usually didn't come back. Those going to Pakistan were more likely to survive, and to be watched by the police when they came back to Europe. 

The major problem in Algeria is no longer Islamic terrorists, but corrupt, inefficient government. The next rebellion will likely be based on desire for a better government, or ethnic grievances (the Berbers), not Islamic radicalism.

 


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