Algeria: Terror Without End

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June 24, 2009:  Al Qaeda operations in Algeria are difficult to stamp out for several reasons. First, there is no shortage of new recruits, thanks to the corrupt and inefficient government (basically a dictatorship of families whose ancestors ran the 1960s campaign that drove out the French). High unemployment and unwillingness to reform, leaves many young men vulnerable to al Qaedas promise of a just Islamic republic (a religious dictatorship). Joining al Qaeda gives unemployed young men a license to kill and steal. Even getting killed is not an unmitigated disaster, because al Qaeda often gives the deceased man's family a cash payment.

So, killing all al Qaeda in North Africa will be impossible. Thanks to the Internet and cell phones, there are always a few members surviving even the most successful counter-terror operations, and those few can resume recruiting, training and attacking. But the government cannot stop attacking, for al Qaeda's main targets are corrupt government officials. Moreover, the Islamic terrorists frequent attacks on civilians over the last two decades, has made the government look better by comparison. So there is still wide support for the fight against the terrorists. But it is a war without end as long as Algeria is a poorly run dictatorship.

Al Qaeda in North Africa has associates, perhaps hundreds, in Europe. These offshore members work mainly with the fund raising (mostly from criminal activities), but some carry out terrorism related tasks (reconnaissance, recruiting). Intelligence officials in Algeria and Europe have long known that Islamic terrorists in Algeria are in regular communication with fellow Algerian radicals in Europe. Police do  not reveal exactly what intercepted communications are about (fund raising, getting  out of Algeria, or planning attacks in Europe), but do admit that the message traffic is growing.

June 22, 2009: Some 600 kilometers southeast of the capital, Islamic terrorists ambushed an army patrol, killing five soldiers and taking two captive.

June 18, 2009:  Al Qaeda terrorists ambushed a police convoy 180 kilometers east of the capital, killing 19 paramilitary security personnel (who were guarding Chinese workers and engineers, who are supervising the construction of a highway.) Meanwhile, a suicide car bomber attacked a military college just east of the capital, and killed over 40 people.

June 17, 2009:  In Mali, police raided an al Qaeda base near the Algerian border. Over twenty terrorists were killed, but others managed to escape. This base was believed used by the al Qaeda group that kidnapped, and recently murdered, a British captive.

June 3, 2009: Because al Qaeda murdered one of its foreign prisoners, Mail said that it would no longer hold back its troops from going after the kidnappers. Previously, foreign nations (representing the captives) had convinced Mali not to go in and find and rescue the captives, but to allow ransom negotiations to continue. But now Mali is going to round up the usual suspects.

June 2, 2009:  Just across the border in Mali, al Qaeda announced it had killed, two days earlier, one of its British hostages (Edwin Dyer). Al Qaeda had been demanding $14 million for Dyer and another Swiss citizen they were holding. This was the first time the North African branch of al Qaeda had killed a hostage. Al Qaeda later said that Dyer was killed in response to the arrest of a prominent Islamic radical cleric. But the terrorists do need the money. Recently, in Pakistan, al Qaeda appealed for money, because so many sources of funds had dried up. International efforts to cut terrorist funding has apparently worked, as seen in the amount of effort al Qaeda has put into kidnapping and collecting ransom for foreign captives in Mali, and other Sahel states.

June 1, 2009: Police in the capital arrested twelve terrorist suspects, based on information found on a dead terrorist. Those picked up provided even more information on terrorist activity.

 

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