Algeria: Cell Phones And Bad Memories

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September 16, 2008:  Last month's terror attacks killed over a hundred people, while this month there has been nothing so far. The police and army response to the August attacks was energetic, and the public disapproval of the large number of civilians killed in the attacks increased the number of tips phoned in. Al Qaeda is aware of the need to avoid civilian casualties, but this is difficult to do as the police and soldiers often operate among civilians. When the security forces are out in the country, any approaching terrorists stand out and are usually shot before they can attack. Roadside bombs and ambushes are also difficult to carry out. But the combination of civilian casualties, from over a decade of Islamic terrorist violence, and the growing availability of cell phones, has made the terrorists more vulnerable to detection and attack by the police. There are not that many terrorist cells operating, and each time they carry out attacks , they increase the chance that someone will see and report them to the police.

September 15, 2008: In neighboring Mauritania, twelve soldiers were killed in an ambush by al Qaeda terrorists near the Algerian border. Hundreds of Algerian terrorists fled to southern Algeria in the past few years, and many operate on both sides of the borders there. This is desolate country, with lots of deserts and mountains.

September 13, 2008: The military budget will go up ten percent next year. In addition, an amount greater than the defense budget will be spent to create manufacturing organizations that will supply the army with equipment and weapons. This is an economic development program, not, strictly speaking, a military one (since the gear could be imported more cheaply.)

September 11, 2008: Based on tips, police prevented several terror attacks in eastern Algeria.

September 10, 2008: In the south, an Algerian brokered peace deal between the Mali government and Tuareg rebels has worked. Both sides have released prisoners and are halting armed operations.

September 9, 2008: An al Qaeda member, unhappy with the number of civilian casualties from bombing attacks, went to the police and provided information on his cell, and prevented 4-5 terrorist attacks in western Algeria. The defector also reported on how the terrorists have been using kidnapping (for ransom) to finance their operations.

September 8, 2008: Police arrested four people belonging to a terrorist cell in southern Algeria. Wiretaps of known terrorist sympathizers led to the discovery of this group, which was building a bomb and planned using the widow of an Islamic terrorist to wear and detonate the bomb.

 

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