2008: Islamic terrorists have killed or
wounded some 600 people in the last 18 months. The attacks come in bunches, as
a terrorist cell jells and starts carrying out operations that often take weeks
or months to plan. The pattern is for the police to collect evidence from the
attacks, identify the terrorist cell, wipe it out, and wait for the next one to
major problem is not organizing terror attacks, but repairing their image with
the Algerian people. While the corrupt and inefficient government (basically a dictatorship
controlled by the families of the men who led the fight, half a century ago, to free Algeria from French control) is widely
hated, the Islamic terrorists are even more despised. The spreading use of cell
phones had made it more difficult for the terrorists to operate, but they have
adapted. What the terrorists have not been able to do is make themselves any
more popular with the people, in whose name, they are doing all this killing.
Although al Qaeda says it has learned its lesson from Iraq (don't kill so many
civilians), the current attacks are still mainly killing civilians. And the
soldiers and policemen killed have families too. The Islamic terrorists are not
doing a lot of damage to the government, but they are increasing the number of
locals who want al Qaeda dead and gone. This does not bode well for al Qaeda's
long terms success in Algeria.
2008: Suicide bombers hit a police
school on the outskirts of the capital, killing over 40 and wounding about as
2008: In Mali, Tuareg tribal rebels
released 21 soldiers, as a sign of good faith. Last month, the rebels agreed to
a ceasefire with the government, and negotiations to settle differences. The
Tuareg and Berbers (a similar people who are a large minority in Algeria) are
remnants of the pre-Moslem people who continue to resist the imposition of Arab
culture on the region.
2008: Terrorist violence has increased
in the last week, causing about a hundred casualties. Most alarming was that
five of the terrorist operations were suicide bomb attacks, with most of the
remainder being roadside bombs.
2008: The Austrian government continues
to negotiate with al Qaeda for the release of two Austrians snatched by Islamic
terrorists in Tunisia. The kidnappers had demanded $8 million, plus several
Islamic terrorists freed from jail. The government negotiators had haggled the
terrorists down to a $5 million ransom. Everyone thought a deal had been made,
but then one terrorist faction insisted that there be a political sweetener,
like the release of some al Qaeda members being held in jail. The Austrian
government has no control over that, and has been told by North African
governments that no one is getting out of jail as part of a deal to ransom European
tourists. The two captives are believed held in Mali. This will be a big payday
for the regional al Qaeda groups, and will pay for a lot more attacks.
2008: In the south, an oil engineer and
two assistants, were released after having been kidnapped the day before by
tribesmen. This was a typical tribal operation. The tribesmen were trying to
get the government to release several of their kinsmen, who were in jail
because of violence (a tribal feud over real estate). When the police jail
tribesmen, the prisoners friends and families look for some stranger to kidnap,
and trade for their imprisoned brethren.
in Mauritania, a feud between the politicians and the generals resulted in a coup
last week. The military was seen as in the wrong here, and neighboring
countries, as well as most foreign ones, and the UN, jumped all over the
generals. Sensing they were in trouble, the generals promised new elections
soon, and a return to politics. Meanwhile, the local Islamic terrorists rejoiced,
as this political drama shut down much of the counter-terrorism effort.