Algeria: Terrorists On Both Sides Of The Law

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June 9, 2013: Elderly (76 years old) president Abdelaziz Bouteflika has been gone for six weeks, hospitalized in France and apparently in a coma after a stroke. This has been declared (unofficially) a state secret and media that talks about it are being shut down. But in the Internet age you can’t stop the news that easily and there is growing public anger at the inaction this older generation of rulers has cursed the country with. The government is at least aware of this. Two years ago Bouteflika himself sensed that something was very wrong. He ordered a survey of public attitudes and was told that the people were very unhappy because the centralized economy was mismanaged, there was too much corruption and favoritism in the government, and the government officials were out-of-touch with the Algerian people. Then there was the way elections were handled. It was commonly believed the voting was rigged and government resistance to foreign election monitors seemed to confirm this. All this was nothing new to foreign observers of Algeria, but it apparently was surprising to many senior Algerian officials. The report warned of the potential for a violent uprising. This was supposed to be avoided with parliamentary elections last year that would create a legislature whose main chore was to create a new constitution. This was expected to toss out the old elected dictatorship of families who were prominent in the fight against colonial France half a century ago. As Algerians expected, the old "revolutionary" families did not give up power but they did surrendered some of it. This was apparently because the vote was so overwhelmingly against the ruling party in some districts that it was considered prudent to surrender these rather than risk local uprisings. The 2012 elections saw the ruling party win only 48 percent of the 462 seats. A pro-military party got 15 percent, giving the military dictatorship another lease on life. The seven Islamic parties got only 13 percent of the seats. The opposition claimed fraud, pointing out that international observers were not allowed to examine most electoral records and that only 42 percent of eligible voters turned out.

The government tried to placate the Islamic parties with new lifestyle laws (restricting alcohol consumption, for example) but this just made more Algerians angry. The government fears that the Islamic political parties, which only recently became legal again, might regain some of the popular support they lost during the Islamic terror campaign of the 1990s and that that could lead to another "Arab Spring" in Algeria. The first Arab Spring had little effect but the popular anger against the government has grown since then. Now, with the government paralyzed by a comatose president that the elderly leadership will not even admit is out-of-action, popular anger grows, despite improved economic conditions and declining terrorist activity.

In the Atlas Mountains, just across the Tunisian border, police and soldiers continue searching for about fifty Islamic terrorists who are operating near the Kasserine Pass and Mount Chaambi. Tunisian security personnel are searching a hundred square kilometers of sparsely populated forests and mountains without much success. So far twenty soldiers and police have been hurt, with three killed (all in recent attacks). Algerian border security in that area has been increased, in case the terrorists try to flee into Algeria or obtain reinforcements from Algeria. This is the first time Tunisia has had to deal with armed Islamic terrorists since 2007. These armed men have been active in the area for at least six months. Some of these terrorists recently fled Mali and others are from Algeria. These were joined by a smaller group (a dozen or so) of Tunisian Islamic terrorists who had apparently not been active until joined by all these new men and a few additional local recruits. There has been a lot of evidence that Tunisia is providing more Islamic radicals for terrorist groups. Eleven of the 32 terrorists killed in the attack on an Algerian natural gas field in January were Tunisian, which provided a hint that there were a lot more Islamic terrorists in Tunisia than the government wants to admit.

June 6, 2013: In Tunisia, just across the border, a roadside bomb killed two soldiers and wounded two others near Mount Chaambi.

June 3, 2013: The U.S. announced a $5 million dollar reward for Algerian terrorist leader Mokhtar Belmokhtar (dead or alive). Belmokhtar is believed responsible for a lot of the terrorist violence in Algeria and elsewhere in the region this year. The reward was one of several recently announced for African terrorist leaders.

June 1, 2013: Just across the Tunisian border a roadside bomb wounded three soldiers searching a remote portion of the Atlas Mountains for several dozen Islamic terrorists hiding there.

May 31, 2013: In the past week Tunisian police have arrested six more Islamic terrorists, bringing the number who have been killed or captured during search operations in the Atlas Mountains near the Algerian border to 45. Algerian security forces have been more active on the border. There are still some Islamic terrorists operating in the mountains along the east Algerian coast. Most of these men keep their heads down because of the heavy police and army presence.

May 24, 2013: Algerian terrorist leader Mokhtar Belmokhtar (the planner of the January natural gas facility attack in southern Algeria that got 37 workers killed) is believed responsible for planning two recent attacks in nearby Niger. Belmokhtar was thought to have been killed in March, but that turned out to not be the case. Belmokhtar and supreme leader of al Qaeda in North Africa (Abdel Malek Droukdel) are believed to still be hiding out in Algeria. The recent destruction of so many al Qaeda bases in Mali and the death of hundreds of hard-core Islamic terrorists there have demoralized Islamic radicals throughout North Africa. At the same time all counter-terrorism forces in the region are trying to take advantage of all this by seeking out Islamic terrorists fleeing Mali. Belmokhtar appears to have made it out and is being sought in Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and several countries to the south.

May 9, 2013: Over the last few days security forces killed seven Islamic terrorists in the Atlas Mountains near the Tunisian border. That makes 31 Islamic terrorists killed in this area so far this year. Others are believed to have fled to Tunisia, where they are apparently active and being sought.

 

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