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Algeria: Islamic Terrorists Are Down But Not Out


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20140111.aspxStrategy Page:

January 11, 2014:


In the south, there has been less Islamic terrorist activity on the Mali border in the last year and the government is publicizing this in an effort to revive the tourist industry down there. The Islamic terrorist violence in the south after 2008 saw tourism shrink dramatically (from 30,000 visitors a year to a few hundred). The government made it clear that troops are assigned to provide security for tourist sites and tourists.


Foreign firms that operate much of the Algerian oil and gas industry are still uneasy about the ability of the military to protect facilities out in the desert. The January 2013 Islamic terrorist raid on a natural gas plant near the Libyan border is blamed on poor performance by the Algerian security forces, and the government refuses to accept the assessment of the foreigners. Algeria cannot afford to expel the foreign firms and has not interfered with the foreigners upgrading their own security. In the past the government opposed the foreign firms creating their own security forces and for years that seemed to be no problem. But after the 2013 attack the foreign firms realized that the rumors of inept and corrupt military leadership were true and that they had to defend themselves or leave. They let the government know how they felt.


The security forces are not a total loss as they have been successful in destroying most Islamic terrorists in the country and keeping these groups from reviving. But the military ignored all the signs that the resurgent Islamic terrorist groups in Libya and Mali were capable of striking vulnerable Algerian oil and gas facilities in the largely desert south. The attack revealed that the military had not prepared for such an eventuality and were caught by surprise. The foreign firms believe the military has not yet come to fully appreciate the threat. The best army and police units are still in the north where most of the population lives. There is better security on the Mali border but the Libyan frontier is regularly violated by many smugglers and some of these criminals are believed to help Islamic terrorists come and go as well, if only because the terrorists pay well.



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