Not surprisingly, considering the large amounts of cash al Qaeda has obtained from kidnapping and drug smuggling operations, there are numerous reports of Arabs seeking to buy weapons in several Sahel (an area just south of the Sahara) countries. The Arab terrorists are approaching criminal gangs or corrupt government officials, and offering high prices, in cash, for weapons and other equipment. Corrupt officials are often reluctant to deal with Islamic terrorists, because counter-terrorism forces often have access to powerful investigative tools that could make life uncomfortable for government officials operating on the edge of the law. But if the price is right, someone will sell. The Arab buyers are believed to have gone as far east as Chad (which borders Sudan).
Algeria is warning its southern neighbors Mali, Niger and Mauritania that they are making a mistake by accepting American and French help in dealing with al Qaeda. Mali, Niger and Mauritania disagree, believing al Qaeda is seen more of a criminal gang in the south not, as it is in Algeria, an Islamic radical group.
November 11, 2010: A roadside bomb went off 120 kilometers east of the capital, hitting a truck carrying security guards, and killed three people. In the south, five teenage Mauritanian members of al Qaeda, operating across the border in Mali, have defected to the Mauritanian government. Al Qaeda has been recruiting the local teenagers, but many of the kids grow disillusioned with the Islamic radicals, and try to get out. Local governments are making it easier for the teenage recruits to defect.
November 10, 2010: Britain and Algeria have agreed to regularly exchange intelligence on Islamic terrorism matters, as well as cooperate with counter-terrorism training and technology developments.
November 8, 2010: Moroccan police fought rebellious tribesmen in the disputed Western Sahara, leaving several dozen dead and wounded. Some 2,000 people were arrested. The tribesmen were demonstrating for housing and government jobs. There is fear that the violence will lead to a resumption of the rebellion. Back in 1991, Morocco finally won the war against Polisario Front rebels, who were seeking independence for the Western Sahara (a region south of Morocco). Polisario is powerful in Mauritania, where the rebel group has official recognition and maintains several refugee camps. Because Polisario was so well-subsidized by Algeria, back when Algeria was a radical state, Polisario still has enough diehards out there to keep lots of people in Western Sahara unhappy. This provides a potential resource for al Qaeda and other Islamic radicals. For two decades, the UN has been trying and work out a final peace deal between Polasario and Morocco. In the 1990s, Algeria cut off all support for Polasario. But that, and UN efforts to mediate the differences, have just not worked. The contested area is largely desert, and has a population of less than 300,000. Logic would have it that the area is better off as a part of Morocco. But there are still thousands of locals who would rather fight for independence, than submit to Morocco. Some resistance is tribal and cultural, with the Moroccans seen as another bunch of alien invaders (the area was administered, until 1976, as a Spanish colony). If the fighting breaks out again, possibly inspired by Islamic radicals, it could go on for years, just as it does in many other parts of Africa, and the immediate neighborhood.
In southern Algeria, police operations found five Islamic terrorist hideouts and killed six Islamic militants. One of the dead was a known terrorist leader.
November 3, 2010: The government will resume arming civilian self-defense forces in areas suffering from Islamic terrorist violence.