Algeria: The Island Of Tranquility

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August 18, 2014: The government has managed to create an island of tranquility in a sea of Islamic terrorism. Iraq, Syria, Gaza and Egypt may be aflame with terrorist activity but Algeria has managed to make itself a very inhospitable place for Islamic terrorists to operate. Algeria still has lots of political (an unpopular “elected” dictatorship) and economic (corruption, high unemployment) problems, but there is also a population that does not want another Islamic revolution as it suffered in the 1990s. Moreover, many local Islamic terrorists have been drawn to the better prospects in Libya, Syria and Iraq.

Algeria has also made it for difficult for Islamic terrorists to get in and out of the country. Since earlier this year the Mali border has become very difficult for Islamic terrorists to get across. Instead the few Islamic terrorists still operating in Mali move through Libya. Algeria has also improved security on its eastern borders with Tunisia and Libya. This has been crucial with Libya because another civil war has broken out there between Islamic terrorist militias and those who want to shut down these extremist organizations.

While Algeria got most of its endangered citizens out of Libya Egypt is having more difficulty. This is mainly because there are over 500,000 Egyptians in Libya and not all of them have been able to get to the Tunisian, Algerian or Egyptian borders. Egypt suggested a joint Algerian/Egyptian military effort to quiet things down but Algeria was not interested, at least not yet.

August 15, 2014: Algeria will again host, on September 1st, peace talks between Mali and the Tuareg rebels of northern Mali. For any peace deal to work the Islamic terrorists have to be kept out of northern Mali and this requires some military help from Algeria. For decades the main source of Islamic terrorists in North Africa has been Algeria. Thus both countries want their mutual border to be an effective barrier to Islamic terrorists and smugglers. Mali has cooperated in securing the border.

August 12, 2014: Soldiers killed two Islamic terrorists 450 kilometers west of the capital. The army had received a tip and troops recovered two assault rifles and documents from the bodies. This coastal area is rural and the primary hideout of the remaining Islamic terrorists in Algeria along with a similar coastal area to the east near the Tunisian border.

August 3, 2014: In neighboring Tunisia Islamic terrorists attacked an army base near the Algerian border. The attack was repulsed but one soldier was killed and a civilian was wounded.

August 2, 2014: The government has managed to evacuate over 5,000 Algerians from Libya. Growing violence against Islamic terrorist militias has caused much damage to the economy there, which employs a lot of foreigners from nearby Arab nations.

July 26, 2014: In neighboring Tunisia Islamic terrorists clashed with an army patrol near the Algerian border. Two soldiers were killed and four were wounded before the Islamic terrorists fled, carrying their dead and wounded with them.

July 24, 2014: An Air Algerie airliner disappeared from radar over northern Mali and crashed. French aircraft were sent to the area to search for the airliner and soon found it. Mali asked France to send troops to help with the investigation and secure the crash site. The next day French troops, with the help of local residents, reached the wreckage. All 116 people aboard were killed. There is no evidence that the Islamic terrorists had anything to do with the crash. French troops quickly found and removed the flight recorders, which were intact except for the voice recordings from the cockpit. The current hypothesis is that the airliner was brought down by bad weather and/or mechanical problems. The investigation of the wreckage will eventually sort all this out. The downed airliner was flying from Burkina Faso to Algeria.

July 23, 2014: Islamic terrorist leader Mokhtar Belmokhtar (the planner of the January 2013 natural gas facility attack in southern Algeria that got 37 workers killed) of Islamic terror group Al Mourabitoun claimed responsibility for the recent suicide bombing in northern Mali that killed a French soldier. This attack, he said, was made to refute French claims that Islamic terrorists had been largely eliminated in the north. The French claim was accurate and Al Mourabitoun has not been very active at all, anywhere in North Africa. In April Belmokhtar had released a statement on the Internet announcing his return to al Qaeda. He had split from that organization in late 2012. Belmokhtar is believed to be operating from a base in southern Libya. Al Mourabitoun was formed in August 2013 when two Islamic terrorist factions merged. The new group has been detected operating in northern Mali and Niger (where it had carried out several daring attacks, including a prison break in June and twin bombings in May 2013). One faction was an al Qaeda splinter group led by Belmokhtar who had a reputation for always escaping the many efforts to kill or capture him. Belmokhtar was number two or three in the North African al Qaeda organization (Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb or AQIM) but formed his own splinter group in late 2012. In November 2013 France announced that it had killed the second-in-command of Al Mourabitoun near the northern town of Tessalit and was still searching for Belmokhtar, despite reports that he might have died during an air attack in 2013. The French and American pressure in the Sahel has left Belmokhtar short of cash and prospects, so returning to al Qaeda is a way to remedy those problems. Al Qaeda has always had access to more cash and other resources than most other terrorist organizations and that’s why it remains such a visible player among Islamic terrorists.

 

 

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