Algeria: Dead Man Walking

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April 11, 2016: There was a spike in Islamic terrorist activity in the last month, at least in terms of Islamic terrorists found and arrested or killed. So far this year the number of Islamic terrorists killed is at the same low level experienced during 2015 (when security forces killed 157 Islamic terrorists). The largest remaining Islamic terror groups in Algeria is AQIM (Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb), which was formed in 2007 from several of the 1990s era Algerian groups, is weaker than ever. Not only are the remaining Islamic terrorist groups suffering personnel losses but also much equipment. In 2015 security forces seized over 300 firearms and over 1,200 explosive devices (bombs, mortar shells, grenades, landmines) as well as nearly 600 hideouts (often well camouflaged bunkers in the hilly forests along the coast). So far in 2016 fewer Islamic terrorists camps and bunkers are being found. Fewer new recruits are being encountered. Most of the Islamic terrorists encountered and killed or captured this year are veterans. Interrogations of those taken alive indicate hard times for Islamic terrorists inside Algeria but for many Islamic terrorists that is preferable to operating in a foreign country. Libya is chaotic, Tunisia is well policed and has a very anti-terrorist population. Mali is full of French commandos and Western surveillance aircraft. Syria and Iraq are even worse. Europe used to be a good refuge for Islamic terrorists but now the Europeans are angry and not receptive to Algerian refugees at all. There’s no place like home, even if means a violent reception and certain death. Operating as an Islamic terrorist in Algeria these days is like being a dead man walking.

While Algeria has kept foreign Islamic terrorists out it has allowed some of the victims in, at least temporarily. Algeria is currently hosting some 30,000 refugees (half from Mali, 27 percent from Libya and 23 percent from Syria).

Meanwhile the government lurches forward with needed reforms. Corrupt and inept government is a primary cause of Islamic terrorist popularity in Algeria. As usually happen the Islamic conservatives turned the population against them by terrorizing civilians and not just the corrupt politicians and security forces who protected the hated rulers. In this case the Islamic terrorists were defeated by the government but played a large part in snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

Senior French and Algerian security and intelligence officials have been meeting regularly to increase cooperation in detecting Islamic terrorists and preventing attacks. Algeria has been increasingly cooperative and helpful to European police and intelligence organizations in general, especially when it comes to Islamic terrorism. Algeria help identify Algerian illegals who get arrested in Europe and are suspected of being involved with Islamic terrorism. If Algeria cannot identify a suspect right away they will start an investigation in Algeria. There is some self-interest involved here because it sometimes happen that an Algerian illegal migrant will get radicalized in Europe and either return to Algeria or support others who wish to do so in order to commit terrorist acts in Algeria. This cooperation has been going on the longest with France, which was one of the first European countries to attract Algerian terrorists. That‘s because France occupied Algeria as a colony for over a century before leaving (involuntarily) in the early 1960s. Many Algerians had already migrated legally to France by then and many Algerians still learn French in school or from parents. So France has long been a favorite destination of legal and illegal Algerian migrants. At these meetings both countries also plan and coordinate strategy to deal with the Islamic terrorist threat from Libya. Currently Libya is close to forming its first national government since 2011.

April 4, 2016: In the south troops watching the border increased patrols after Mali announced a ten day state of emergency because of increased threat of Islamic terrorist attacks. Many of the Islamic terrorists are based in northern Mali and southern Libya.

March 30, 2016: In the northeast, just across the border in Tunisia, fifteen Islamic terrorists ambushed a border guard patrol and wounded one of the border guards. Other border guards returned fire and the Islamic terrorists fled into the mountains. The vehicle that got shot up also caught fire. These actions are often so close to the border that the gunfire and explosions can be heard in Algeria. Both countries cooperate in situations like this. Thus if the Islamic terrorists in this attack tried to escape into Algeria they would encounter Algerian troops brought to the scene because Tunisia is able to make a phone call and coordinate military operations for situations like this.

March 26, 2016: In Tizi Ouzou province (130 kilometers east of the capital) troops searching for Islamic terrorists found some and killed all three after a brief gun battle. The dead were later identified as veteran Islamic terrorists that the police had long been looking for.

March 25, 2016: In Tizi Ouzou province (130 kilometers east of the capital) soldiers shot dead an Islamic terrorist suicide bomber trying to make an attack. The dead man was found to be wearing an explosive vest.

March 21, 2016: In the northeast (near the Tunisian border) troops clashed with Islamic terrorists and killed six of them. This was part of a larger search operation in which five assault rifles, three machine-guns, two 4x4 vehicles, lots of ammo and a pistol were seized. All the dead men were later identified as veteran Islamic terrorists.

March 20, 2016: The army believes it caught up with the Islamic terrorists responsible for the recent RPG attack on the Krechba natural gas plant. Troops killed four of the armed men they encountered near Krechba and captured another three.

March 18, 2016: In Krechba (1,200 kilometers south of the capital) Islamic terrorists fired rockets at a natural gas plant but did no damage. The foreign companies running the plant did, however, withdraw their personnel until they could be assured that threat was not going to get worse. The facility, which employs 600 people (nearly all Algerians), was temporarily shut. AQIM took credit for the attack which employed at least one RPG (rocket propelled grenade) launcher. The RPG was apparently fired several hundred meters from the sprawling facility. RPGs are not very accurate at that distance and the security around the plant apparently prevented the attackers from getting any closer.

 

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