Algeria: Makes Great Headlines, But Accomplishes Nothing


December 21, 2007: Ten days ago, two al Qaeda suicide truck bombs exploded outside local United Nations headquarters. Al Qaeda claimed this was a blow against the international enemies of Islam. The attack killed 37, including 17 UN employees, and wounded over a hundred. Most of the casualties were Algerians, and this attack increased popular hatred of Islamic terrorism still more. To make matters worse, the two men driving the trucks were members of Islamic terrorist organizations who had recently been freed from prison under the amnesty. They had promised to give up their terrorist ways, and one of them was a 63 year old man dying of cancer.

Al Qaeda hopes to get an Iraq style terror campaign going in Algeria, which will cause the population to rise up in rebellion. This is absurd, but that's what the al Qaeda leadership proclaim as their goals. The reality is that most Algerians are hostile to Islamic terrorism, after over a decade of it and more than 150,000 people killed. This hostility translates into many civilians willing to tip off the police when they see, or suspect, al Qaeda activity. This has led to ten al Qaeda leaders being killed or caught in the last few months. Every week there are al Qaeda members caught, usually because of a tip from civilians. That typically results in some terrorists fighting to the death, a few being captured (along with weapons and documents) every week. Many of the current terrorists in Algeria are those who were recently released under the amnesty. There have been very few attacks, but lots of threats.

Algeria's problem is that, despite the general hatred of Islamic terrorism, the country is still run by a corrupt dictatorship that mismanages the economy and generally screws up. This is typical in the Arab world, and no one has come up with a workable solution yet. Islamic radicalism is the latest idea to be tried, and fail. Despite that, proponents of this approach will be around for a while. Unlike the previous crew (socialist nationalists), whose few remaining supporters just talk and write, Islamic terrorists must terrorize until they die, or lose interest completely. Many have done that, but some of those who fled to Europe have remained committed to mass murder in the name of God. Thus in the last week, French police arrested several more Algerians on terrorism charges. The French like to let these guys run free, so that the names of more pro-terrorist Algerian migrants can be obtained. But it was believed that the exiles were part of an active support network for the attacks in Algeria, and this needed to be stopped.

Al Qaeda is using the Internet and willing Arab media (like al Jazeera) to get their message in front of young (late teen, early 20s) Moslem men (especially students) who are the most likely new recruits. Students are particularly susceptible, because they are facing unemployment after they graduate, and their education has made them aware of why this is so. While many such men seek to emigrate to the West, or oil rich Arab countries that need foreigners to do the work, others seek an easier, and more futile, solution. Nothing new here. Even Europe went through a spate of it in the 60s and 70s, with young Europeans killing people and blowing things up. Makes great headlines, but accomplishes nothing.


Article Archive

Algeria: Current 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 



Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close