Algeria: Why Islamic Terrorists Will Not Disappear


November 22,2008: Islamic terrorist activity is down nearly 50 percent compared to last year. About two-thirds of the terrorist activity, and apparently the terrorist camps, are in an area stretching several hundred kilometers east of the capital, along the coast and about a hundred kilometers into the interior. This area contains coastal mountains and forests to hide in.

Four years ago, the government defeated the Islamic radical movement, which had lost a ten year terror campaign, leaving 200,000 dead in the process. The radicals wanted to establish a religious dictatorship in Algeria. The surviving terrorists fled to the coastal hills east of the capital, the Sahara desert far to the south, Europe and Iraq. Those who went to Iraq tended to get killed quickly. Those who went to Europe got on welfare and either retired from terrorism, or continued to plan new attacks (and get caught and jailed for it). Those who fled to the hills and desert turned to banditry (robbery, extortion and kidnapping) to survive. Two years ago, these Islamic radicals declared that they had merged with al Qaeda. This was largely cosmetic, as al Qaeda was taking a beating in Iraq, and elsewhere around the world. There was a brief revival of terror attacks in Algeria, but that has since been declining. Meanwhile, the tyranny and economic mismanagement throughout the Islamic world continues to produce young men willing to kill for change.

While the terrorists are mostly hiding out in the hills east of the capital, the rest of the country is booming. This is happening despite the corruption, which means any successful business can expect a visit from corrupt officials looking to get paid. This discourages Western companies, but not Arabs or Russians, who are accustomed to operating in an atmosphere of corruption. Wealthy Persian Gulf Arabs are investing in Algeria. Again, despite the terrorist activity, most of the country is quiet and safe, and has become a hot new tourist destination.

November 18, 2008: The highest appeals court confirmed the conviction of three construction workers, who police arrested for smoking during Ramadan (the month, late in each year, when all Moslems are supposed to abstain from drinking, eating, sex, smoking and such during the daylight hours.) The judges reduced the sentence from three years to two months (which was how long the three have been in jail, thus freeing them.) In some Moslem countries, laws are passed making it a crime to violate any of the many rules good Moslems are supposed to follow. Algeria passed such a law, in 2001, making it illegal to "offend" Islam. This was kind of vague, and passed to placate Islamic conservatives who had turned on Islamic radicals, and wanted some payback. Since then, the Islamic conservatives (about half the population, to one degree or another) have used the law to arrest Christians, Moslems who have converted to Christianity, and some Moslems who are, according to hard line clerics, "offending Islam."

November 12, 2008: Parliament lifted the ban on the president only being able to serve two terms. The opposition decried this as making it possible for politicians to become "president-for-life." Seven other African countries have made this change in the past decade. This is not as important as it might appear. Countries with parties that have entrenched themselves in power (as is the case in Algeria), have no problem with selecting (for "election") a new guy to serve one or two terms. Even a president-for-life has to watch his back, and there is usually a committee of senior officials that have to be placated. The basic problem in these situations is the government making it difficult, or impossible, for opposition parties to operate. It's basically a dictatorship of one group. In the case of Algeria, it's the descendents of the rebels who led the fighting against the French colonial government in the 1950s and 60s.

November 7, 2008: The trial of 24 Islamic terrorists, who carried out an attack this past January, sentenced twelve (who had been identified but not arrested) to death, nine to prison (for between 1.5-20 years) and three were acquitted. So far this year, over 220 have been condemned to death in absentia (while not present). This indicates that many of the worst terrorists are known, but not getting caught.

November 6, 2008: The mayor of a town 260 kilometers east of the capital, was kidnapped, and later murdered, by Islamic terrorists. By attacking local officials, the terrorists encourage less cooperation with the police and army searching for terrorist camps and supporters.


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