Algeria: It's Hip To Be Dead

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May 11,2008: Al Qaeda has been busy recruiting, trying to replace heavy losses. The terrorists have also made their pitch to the Berber minority. Berber nationalism has long been a problem, not Berber religious radicalism. The Berbers, a people related to the ancient Egyptians, were the original occupants of Algeria. Arab armies conquered the country over a thousand years ago, but, unlike other Arab conquests, most Berbers did not adopt Arab language and customs. Today, about a third of Algerians are Berbers, and speak the Berber language, Tamazight. There has always been tension between Berbers and Arabs, and now Berbers are demanding that their language be made one of Algeria's official languages. The Arab dominated government refuses to consider this. So far, Berber violence has been in the form of rowdy demonstrations. But the Berber radicals could escalate to guns and bombs. So far they haven't, but al Qaeda is trying to interest the Berber radicals in a coalition, at least. This pitch isn't going down too well, as al Qaeda is seen as a bunch of losers, especially since their defeat in Iraq. The one thing al Qaeda has to offer is media recognition. Any terrorist action associated with al Qaeda gets more coverage. Since terrorism lives and dies according to how much media attention it gets, this is a persuasive pitch. Still, the Berber radicals have not shown any inclination become another al Qaeda franchise.

In the last two weeks, police have captured bomb making supplies, new recruits and terrorist camps. The police have become familiar with the rural areas al Qaeda is hiding out in, and is making it more difficult for the terrorists to operate.

Since 1992, security forces have killed some 17,000 Islamic terrorists. Over 200,000 Algerians have died in this violence, most of them civilians killed by the terrorists for not being Islamic enough. In the last fifteen months, 2,226 terrorists have accepted the amnesty. The high unemployment tempts many young men to join al Qaeda. The terrorist organization is still considered hip among the young, or at least some of them. On the Internet, al Qaeda is having a hard time, with many Islamic militants openly criticizing the terrorist organization. But every successful operation, especially large bombings, inspire some guys in their teens or twenties to check it out.

May 5, 2008: After hiding out for a month, an al Qaeda bomb maker was found and captured by police in Mauritania's capital. The prisoner, Sidi Mohamed, is believed to work for al Qaeda terrorists in Algeria.

May 3, 2008: The month long cease fire in Mali was broken when Tuareg rebels attacked an army convoy near the Algerian border. Four rebels were killed. The Tuareg are ethnic cousins of the Berbers to the north, and also don't get along with Arabs, or anyone for that matter. There is also a Tuareg revolt in neighboring Niger. Like the Berbers, the Tuareg are not attracted to Islamic radicalism or al Qaeda, but will provide support, for a price. Al Qaeda needs cash to survive, and smuggling, especially drugs, provides that. They cooperate with traditional smuggling groups, like the Tuareg in this.

 

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