The rural areas along Algeria's Mediterranean coast has become a dangerous place for police and army patrols. In the past two weeks, there have been two instances where large (twenty or more gunmen) groups of Islamic terrorist gunmen have ambushed these patrols, killing five police in one and seven soldiers in another. These attacks are believed to be proof that at least two separate gangs of terrorists are operating out there. One attack was a hundred kilometers south of the capital, and the other was 500 kilometers east, along the coast.
The U.S. is Algeria's largest trading partner (and for the U.S., Algeria is the second largest trading partner among Arab countries.) This brings a lot of Americans to Algeria, but some of them are also working on cooperation in counter-terror operations. This includes exchanges of information. The U.S. tracks Islamic terrorist communications worldwide, as well as financial transactions through the international banking system. This fills in important gaps in the Algerian governments knowledge of what their domestic terrorists are up to, and who they are. This has forced the Algerian terrorists to adapt, communicate less, and limit their operations. But these terrorists keep at it, a constant reminder that there are some unhappy Algerians who are willing to kill for their beliefs.
May 30, 2009: Police found, cornered and killed five of the Islamic terrorists who had ambushed a police patrol outside the capital ten days ago. That terrorist group, of more than twenty men, apparently dispersed after the encounter. The group the police tracked down south of the capital, contained two al Qaeda leaders, and information taken from the bodies indicated arms caches in the area, and approximate locations of the other 4-5 terrorist cells connected with this one.
While the government has been successful in wiping out most of the Islamic terrorists, there are always more. The families of the 1960s era revolution leaders, who took over after independence from France was achieve, show no interest in sharing power, much less giving it up. This oligarchy, which is so common in the Arab world, is corrupt and incompetent (especially when it comes to running the economy.) High unemployment among young men, and disgust with the corrupt and inept government, provides a steady stream of recruits. Most of them are not too bright (the smarter young guys either immigrate, or figure out how to work the corrupt system). The government has had its most success in hunting down the terrorist leadership. These men are either killed, or convinced (with the help of some economic inducements) to quit their terrorist activity, denounce Islamic terrorism and behave. While the government has been winning, they have not won. Until the governance problems are solved, there will always be Islamic terrorists out and about.