Monday, June 8, 2009

Snapshot of a Failed State

Recently I had seen, and written a review of the movie: Battle of Algiers. It depicts a successful guerilla campaign to force the French out of Algeria.

This movie had a great affect on me. I have been studying guerrilla/insurgencies/terrorism movements. It is with interest that I read this compelling AP article: In Algeria, al-Qaida extends franchise

What we see in Algeria is a failed state.
Four years ago, the Algerian terrorists — then known as the Salafist Group for Call and Combat — were running out of steam.

Born in an insurgency in 1992, the group took part in a near-civil war the next decade that killed about 200,000 people. But its fighters had lost popular support after killing Muslim civilians. Many leaders had turned themselves in during government amnesties, and the group was weak from internal feuds.

So its new emir or leader, Abdelmalek Droukdel, reached out to the superstar of international jihad: Al-Qaida.


Still, violence is persistent. Data obtained by the AP from Western diplomats in Algeria shows 85 significant bombings in 2008. Some 639 people died that year because of terrorism-related violence: 409 suspected militants, 158 security force members and 72 civilians.

This year, there were 64 bombings from January to April alone, with deaths of 19 civilians and 61 security force members. The data also shows 167 suspected militants killed amid police sweeps, army raids and aerial bombardments.

Construction entrepreneur Mohammed remembers his terror in February, when he and his son returned late from a construction site, unarmed. They saw five gunmen blocking the road and waiting for them, said Mohammed, who asked to be identified only by his first name for fear of retaliation.
Clearly, the lesson is that once terrorist, insurgent tactics take hold in a society, it's hard to get rid of them. The French are long gone but the civilian Algerians live a miserable life in fear of bombings and kidnappings.

The extent of Al-Qaida in North Africa is shocking to read. Quietly, that too is becoming a major front for the war on terror. The Europeans are seeing it spread to their own soil:

It shows that the battle against radical Islam in Algeria has become crucial — and not only for North Africa. Intelligence officials throughout Europe are convinced that AQIM [Al-Qaida of the Islamic Maghreb] wants to expand in their region.

A senior counterterrorism official in France, who was not authorized to talk on the record, told The Associated Press that his services work "daily, constantly" with Algerian security to contain this threat. He says at least six AQIM-related cells, dormant or getting ready for action, have been dismantled across Europe in recent years.

Last month, the Spanish judiciary announced it had caught 12 Algerians from a suspected support cell. And last week, Italian authorities issued arrest warrants for two Tunisians, two Moroccans and an Algerian suspected of plotting attacks on a church and a subway line.

"For now, we've been good," the French official says. "But we've basically been lucky."

This is a very disturbing article. It's seems like yet another smoking volcano in that region. After eight years in the war on terror, it seems the situation is worse, not better.

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