Algeria: Desperate Times, Desperate Measures

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April 14, 2007: Operations against terrorists, mostly in the countryside, have left 33 dead so far this month. The government suspected that the terrorists were planning urban attacks, because that had been the recent pattern in nearby Morocco. But it was thought that the terrorists were having a hard time operating in populated areas, because so many people were willing to report terrorist activity. The government thought it had reduced the terrorist forces to several hundred hiding out in rural areas, where constant patrols still produced several clashes a month. The bombings in the capital make it clear that Algerian Islamic radicals have indeed switched from their previous tactics of rural attacks, to the al Qaeda method of going for more newsworthy events in big cities. The latest attacks had the desired impact on international media, but made Islamic radicals even more unpopular inside Algeria. The senior Islamic cleric in the country condemned the attacks, and the Islamic terrorists behind them. By playing to the media, with urban attacks against civilians, al Qaeda increased their popularity among Moslems in countries where there is no Islamic terrorism (including Europe), but made themselves very unpopular in countries suffering the attacks. From a strategic point of view, this makes no sense. But terrorist bombings are not a path to victory, but a desperate ploy to try and avoid the destruction of your movement. And the media loves it. Nothing better than a spectacular disaster, carried out by a sinister organization that threatens to do it again and again. Best of all, the bad guys can never take over, because their terrorism angers the very people they depend on for shelter and support.

Some Algerians suspect that the April 11 bombings were carried out by the government. Widespread corruption in the government is still the source of much public anger. More al Qaeda terrorism in the cities increases support for the government. It's unlikely that the attacks were a government set up, as many of the victims were government employees, and al Qaeda was quick to take credit.

April 13, 2007: The family of one of April 11's suicide car bomb attacks, has condemned the operation. This is in sharp contrast to such situations in other parts of the world, where the suicide attackers family is praised, and the family in turn supports the terrorist act of their loved one. No such love here, and that's part of major differences between Islamic terrorism in Algeria and elsewhere. Most Algerians have had it with Islamic terrorism, which has killed over 200,000 Algerians in the last 15 years. Even with this weeks deaths, the violence levels are way down.

April 11, 2007: Two car bombs went off in the capital, killing 33 and wounding over 200. The bombs were set off near government buildings. A third car bomb was later found and disarmed.

April 10, 2007: In Casablanca, Morocco, three suicide bombers set off their explosives, while a fourth was killed by police before he could do so. The four terrorists were cornered in their hideout, and refused to be taken alive. The police caught this group as part of a crackdown brought on by a terrorist bombing last month that killed several dozen people. Since then, several thousand people have been arrested. Morocco has long had Islamic terrorists active, but not that many. The terrorists are unable to carry out more than one or two attacks a year. Many have fled to Europe and Pakistan where they plot additional attacks.

April 8, 2007: In western Algeria, some three dozen terrorists ambushed an army patrol. Several hours of fighting left nine soldiers and six terrorists dead.

 

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