Algeria: Taking Jihad To The Big Empty

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January 7, 2010:  There's only been one terrorist attack in the last five months, and police believe that most al Qaeda groups (cells of a few, to a few dozen terrorists) have fled south. Over 200 terrorists are believed to have gone south. Some individuals have gone to Europe, but that's expensive. Going south into the desert is a desperate move, and apparently many al Qaeda members deserted, rather than go. South is the Sahara desert. It is not one huge expanse of sand, but contains mountains, oases, and, as you near the borders of Algeria's southern neighbors, semi-arid grasslands. The south is thinly populated. Tribes are more important, as are groups of bandits and smugglers. With enough money, you can survive, Money talks, which accounts for the increase in kidnappings down there. The main victims are foreign (often Western) tourists or foreign aid workers. This is a common solution for terrorists who are short of money. But this is not bringing in enough money to support a lot of terrorists, and the desertions continue. There is also growing friction with locals, who do not appreciate getting lectured to (about proper Islamic lifestyle) by a bunch of outsiders. For this reason, the al Qaeda groups tend to move around, before they become too unpopular in any one spot.

It's a challenge finding anyone in the desert south, but the security forces have had some success. The local police have contacts, and can call in favors. Some tribes or clans don't like these arrogant northerners, and pass information to the cops. Even some of the bandits are displeased with the competition. The Americans are lending surveillance capability and more information. Thus the war has not ended, it's just moved to the Big Empty.

December 26, 2009: Several dozen of Moslems blocked Christians from their church in a town a hundred kilometers east of the capital. The Moslems blocked Christians from the church for two days, and during that time, broke into the church and looted it. The police were called early on, but did nothing. The Moslems were annoyed that there was now a church in their neighborhood, along with hundreds of strangers. There was also the fear that their children might be tempted to convert.

December 21, 2009: A group of six Islamic terrorists were detected and captured in the capital. Two assault rifles and documents were also seized.

 

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