Algeria: Hiding With The Tribes Is Difficult

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January 28, 2010:  It's estimated that 100-200 Islamic terrorists are operating in the south, along the Mauritania, Mali, and Niger borders. It's desert and semi-desert down there. Thinly populated by independent minded tribes, it's hard to hunt down outsiders who can afford to pay the locals for sanctuary. The tribesmen tend to be religiously conservative, and anti-government, so the Islamic terrorists are seen as more than just generous guests. But the tribes are not eager to get caught in the middle of major counter-terror operations. So the terrorists can hide in the desolate south, but they can't really operate there. And the damned Americans are always listening, and watching, with their satellites, UAVs and electronic eavesdropping aircraft. So communicating while hiding with the tribes is difficult. Couriers are the safest way to communicate, but also the slowest and most expensive.

January 17, 2010: The management of the state oil company, Sonatrach, including the chief executive, are under investigation for corruption. This is a big deal, because it's widely known that the state oil company has been regularly plundered by state officials. But it's a long way from investigating to putting people in jail. Most people believe that this investigation is mainly for show.

January 11, 2010: Police are searching the capital for a group of terrorists. In the last few days, two terrorists were killed in a police ambush, and two army officers died when they accidentally encountered some of the terrorists fleeing the search.

January 8, 2010: Ten Islamic terrorists were killed in an ambush 400 kilometers east of the capital. The Algerian employee of a Canadian company, who was kidnapped a few days ago, was freed. The Canadian firm has been operating in Algeria for 40 years, building water treatment, and other infrastructure projects. The firm has long been the target of Islamic radicals, but the violence has declined greatly in the last decade. It's believed that kidnapping attacks are the work of criminals, not terrorists.

 

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