Algeria: The Message Has Backfired


September 9, 2009: The government is holding out the prospect of pardons if all Islamic terrorists surrender. Morale is low among many of the armed terrorists, as they are living rough out in the countryside, and constantly harassed by the army. Worse, the terrorists cannot trust civilians, who now may have a cell phone, which is a very quick way to bring in the police and soldiers.

The crops did well this year, with six million tons of cereals produced. Normally, only two million tons are harvested, and another five million tons are imported. For years, the government had been urged to adopt a policy of financial incentives for farmers, and fewer bureaucratic restrictions. This was finally done, at the same time there was a year of good rains. Thus the spectacular growth in cereal production. Lots of happy farmers out in the countryside, which is bad news for terrorists trying to survive among "the people."

The terrorists have found all this prosperity, and their own legacy of bad behavior, poisonous. While they can carry out terror attacks, too many civilians that witness the preparations for these attacks, will inform the police. So each attack results in many valuable members of the attack team getting killed or captured. Already, hundreds of experienced Algerian terrorists are in exile, and being discovered (usually dead) in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other places where Islamic terrorism is a problem. But several hundred are determined to continue the fight in Algeria, and to do that, they have to get as far away from Algerian civilians as possible. There are still many (usually unemployed) young Algerians willing to be recruited by Islamic radical groups. But the Algerian terrorists have to protect their leaders and technical experts. Thus the tendency to move further out into the countryside.

Neighboring Morocco is having a peculiar problem with Islamic radicalism. Iran has been sending missionaries, armed with lots of cash, to Morocco, and engaged in aggressive attempts to convert Sunnis there, to the militant brand of Shia Islam favored in Iran. This has so angered Morocco, that diplomatic relations with Iran were cut earlier this year. Morocco has also cracked down on Wahabi missionaries (Sunni radicals) from Saudi Arabia, and Islamic radicals in general. The king has an advantage in that he is a direct descendent of the Prophet Mohammed, and is generally popular. The Moroccan government is not as corrupt and inept as the one in Algeria, but is not a whole lot better either.

September 7, 2009: The army detected and went after a five man Islamic terrorist group operating 320 kilometers southwest of the capital. One of the terrorists was killed, and another captured. Many of the Islamic terrorists are fleeing their long favored refuges in the coastal mountains. This is partly because of pressure from the military, but more to get away from civilians, who hate the Islamic radicals more than they hate the government. It used to be the other way around, but the frequent murder of suspected civilian informers (and their entire families) turned most Algerians against the Islamic radicals by the late 1990s. That has not changed, apparently because the terrorists will still kill suspected informants, in grisly ways that are meant to send a message. The message, however, has backfired. Thus another group of terrorists, who fled to a mountain hideout 420 kilometers southeast of the capital, were hit by artillery fire, after their camp was spotted.

August 29, 2009: Terrorists attacked east and west of the capital, killing four soldiers and a civilian. One attack was with a car bomb, the other was the ambush of an army patrol.

August 26, 2009: Four Islamic terrorists surrendered, with their weapons, to police some 110 kilometers east of the capital. The men had been hiding the coastal hills, but were demoralized by the constant army patrols, and local civilians willing to turn terrorists in.


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