When the Algerian military stormed the refinery compound Jan. 19 where al-Qaeda terrorists held dozens of foreign hostages, no one could have imagined the carnage to follow. Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal plans to tell a Monday morning press conference about the sordid details that claimed the lives of at least 80 hostages and their captors. American, British, French, Japanese, Norwegian and Romanian workers were among the dead, attesting to either al-Qaeda’s ruthlessness or Algeria’s clumsiness conducting terrorist rescue operations. Long-time al-Qaeda “mujahedeen” Mokhtar Belmokhtar claimed responsibility for the Jan. 15 attack on the Algerian-run British Petroleum natural gas facility 100 miles from Algiers, where some 700 Algerians and more than 100 foreigners escaped. Since Bin Laden’s death May 1, 2011, al-Qaeda has been on a methodical rampage.
When al-Qaeda struck in Benghazi, Libya Septl 11, 2012, killing U.S. Amb. Chris Stevens and three other Americans, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) blamed President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Now that more Americans died in the al-Qadea’s latest attack, McCain should start pointing fingers again. “We in al-Qaeda announce this blessed operation,” Belomokhtar said on the Sahara Medi Website, confirming that 40 mujahedeen “holy warriors” participated in the raid. Energized by French military operations against al-Qaeda in neighboring Mali, the one-eyed Belmokhtar promised more attacks. Despite the high death toll, French and British authorities defended Algerian operations for taking a decisive stand against al-Qaeda. “They had to deal with the terrorists,” said French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, backing the Algerians..
Algeria’s current government fought a bloody guerrilla war against Islamic insurgents in the ‘90s, showing zero tolerance for terrorists. While unfriendly to the West, British Prime Minister David Cameron praised Algerian efforts to respond to al-Qaeda terrorists. “Of course people ask questions about the Algerian response to these events, but I would just say that the responsibility for these deaths likes squarely with the terrorists who launched this vicious and cowardly attack,” said Cameron, unwilling to join the chorus of blame for the loss of innocent hostages. Roaming around North Africa, al-Qaeda remnants for the Libyan civil war that toppled Moammar Gaddafi Aug. 24, 2011 lashed out. Driven from Libya, al-Qaeda looked for a new home base in Mali fighting the French colonialism. Cameron recognized Algeria’s military sacrifices to end the deadly dessert siege.
Since the so-called “Arab Spring” began in Tunis, Tunisia Jan. 23, 2011 toppling dictator Zine al Abidine Ben Ali June 23, 22011, it spread to neighboring Egypt, ending the 30-year-reign of Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak Feb. 12, 2011. Almost simultaneously, an uprising began in Syria began March 15, 2011, costing Syria over 60,000 civilians deaths. Heavily armed al-Qaeda fighters well-armed from the Libyan battlefield have infiltrated Syrian and now Mali, causing the latest Ssyrian uprising. “We should recognize all that the Algerians have done to work with us and to help and coordinate with us. I’d like to thank them for that. We should also recognize that the Algerians too have seen lives lost among their soldiers,” said Cameron, asking Western nations to back off the criticism. Algerian officials learned firsthand there’s no negotiating with Islamic terrorists, especially al-Qaeda.
Algeria wants to return to normal after battling terrorists at the BP natural gas facility. Algeria’s Oil Minister Youcef Yousfi told foreign officials that Algeria expects the BP plant to resume full operations in two days. Having lost over 200,00 lives during the civil war, Algeria values stability. Algerian officials back the French military operation in Northern Mali to rid the region of displaced al-Qaeda fighter heavily armed from their recent battles in Libya. Showing intolerance of terrorism wins the Algerians plaudits from the White House. Unlike Morocco to the West and Tunisian and Egypt to the East, Algeria has been off the radar from U.S. tourism. Considered infiltrated with terrorists, Algerian has not been a destination for the U.S. for over 20 years. Now that they’ve taken a stand against al-Qaeda, look to the Algerian regime to win State Dept. plaudits and more foreign aid.
Al-Qaeda’s recent foray into Algeria and Mali shows that Islamic extremism still plagues the region. While Algiers’ response to al-Qaeda radicals caused some collateral damage, it demonstrated a zero tolerance policy for Islamic extremism. Algiers showed its loyalty to BP not to Bin Laden’s radical philosophy. For more than 200,000 Algerians that lost their lives battling Islamic extremists, the government shows a commitment to meeting global business obligations. Getting BP’s natural gas plant up-and-running in two days shows how Algiers won’t allow disruptions to its natural gas production. However many foreigners were lost in last week’s terrorist incident, the Algerians have shown they’re a trustworthy business partner to foreign governments. Working with France to crush the al-Qaeda uprising in North Mali, Algeria wants to resume doing business with the West.
About the Author
John M. Curtis writes politically neutral commentary analyzing spin in national and global news. He’s editor of OnlineColumnist.com and author of Dodging The Bullet and Operation Charisma.