February 18, 2010:
While Algeria is still listed (by risk management experts) as one of the top ten Islamic terror sites, the reality is that the terrorists have been driven away from the population centers. Several hundred Islamic terrorists appear to be still active, but these are either hiding, in small groups, in the mountains and forest areas along the coast, or have fled to the desert areas farther south. Despite having thousands of supporters among the general population, the terrorists are largely broke, and resort to crime to maintain themselves. In the south, there have been some kidnappings of Western tourists, but this has brought intense police and military attention, as the nations bordering Algeria do not want to lose the lucrative (and formerly growing) tourist business. Islamic terrorists are generally bad for tourism, as one of the goals of Islamic radicals is to purge Islamic society of all non-Islamic elements. That includes non-Moslem tourists. As many as 30 tourists have been taken in the last three years, and the heat is on the kidnappers, especially the 200 or so Islamic radicals who showed the local tribes how you can make big bucks with foreigners. In any event, the terrorists are not obsessed with ransoms, and will kill hostages just to score some media attention for their cause (world Islamic domination).
While outsiders focus on terrorism within Algeria, the locals are more concerned with corruption and incompetence in the government. Algeria is basically a dictatorship, run by the families of the key rebel leaders who took credit (not always deserved) for getting the French colonial government out half a century ago. The rebel leaders promised democracy and prosperity, but despite the presence of oil and an educated (by Arab standards) population, neither happened. The people are still waiting, growing angrier the longer they are put off by their liberators. The next round of violence will have nothing to do with religion.