Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Attack in Algiers


Attack in Algiers: A Warning to Europe

By BRUCE CRUMLEY Tue Dec 11, 1:10 PM ET

Death and destruction revisited the Algerian capital of Algiers Tuesday morning when a pair of powerful car bombs exploded, and claimed what early estimates placed as 62 lives. Though no claims of responsibility have been made, security experts say there's little doubt the attack was the work of al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), a group that formed an alliance with Osama bin Laden's global jihad in 2006. Officials say Tuesday's spectacular strike increases the risk that AQIM is ramping up its violent struggle to bring down the Algerian government. And as the fourth big hit by AQIM in less than a year, the incident highlights the group's increasing organizational skills and establishes it as the greatest potential terror threat to continental Europe as well.

The first blast occurred Tuesday at around 9:30 a.m. local time, as an explosives-filled car plowed into a packed bus, immediately killing the driver and a dozen or more university students en route to the law school in the Ben-Aknoun section of Algiers. The point of impact was located outside two highly symbolic institutions of the Algerian state: the nation's supreme court, and neighboring constitutional court. Just minutes later, a second suicide car bomb ripped through the nearby Hydra neighborhood, badly damaging the offices of two United Nations organizations: the U.N. High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR), and the U.N. Development Program (UNDP). The final death toll may be as high as 100, well above the 30 killed and over 200 injured during the twin car bombings of government buildings in Algiers last April.

Algerian officials had claimed that a counter-offensive by security forces since April had decimated AQIM ranks. But smaller AQIM bombings and gun attacks on police or military forces have continued unabated, though often unreported. There was also the September 8 suicide bombing of a coast guard unit in eastern Algeria that killed 32 people. The ability and determination of the AQIM to strike in stunning fashion was made even clearer two days earlier, when a suicide bomber charged the cortege of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika during a visit to the city of Batna, killing 22 people and injuring more than 100.

"Any advances made during the counter-offensive by special military forces has been more than offset by the effective recruitment among disenfranchised youths since the insurgents took the al- Qaeda name," says a French intelligence official. The 15-year old terror group took on that name after affiliating with bin Laden on September 11, 2006. Since that time, AQIM has adopted the structured, stylized recruitment and attack methods of the original al-Qaeda. The use of synchronized attacks by suicide bombers in Tuesday strikes, for example, almost certainly shows the influence of bin Laden's strategists. "The desired message is 'With al-Qaeda, this is a deeper, broader force than a radical group battling the Algerian regime out in the sticks," says the French official. "The attacks are bigger, the damage larger, and some of targets and victims foreign. The message is clear: We're now battling enemies wherever we can find them."

Indeed, French security officials say that AQIM's organizational effectiveness makes it the largest risk of non-homegrown terror to continental Europe. The French, who keep a very close eye on suspected terror cells on their own territory, are nervous that the AQIM cells from Algeria may be rolled out against France and other European nations, all relatively easy to reach from just across the Mediterranean. Says one counter-terrorism investigator: "If they can make it in under our radar, we're blind to them - unless they make the mistake of making local contacts. That's our concern."

The threat of that kind of imported strike has grown since the AQIM promised to extend its Algerian jihad to Europe. Bin Laden deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri has repeatedly threatened Europe - and France in particular - as enemies of jihadist forces. Meanwhile, French President Nicolas Sarkozy's friendlier relations with the U.S. and relatively pro-Israel positions have only increased extremists ire. Since his taking office last May, officials say, radical websites have cited Sarkozy's support of Israel - and his own Jewish ancestry - in calling for terror strikes against France.

Given the personalized nature of that renewed fury, however, why didn't the AQIM seek a terror attack on Sarkozy or French interests during his state visit to Algeria last month? "Success," explains the French counter-terrorism official. "Trying to kill a visiting leader or bomb a place he's set to visit while security alerts are full is not going to work. Waiting a week until security has slackened to below even normal levels to attack - your chances of success get much better." If that was the AQIM's strategy Tuesday, it promises equally deadly actions for the future.

View this article on Time.com

Related articles on Time.com:


Comments: Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

  • People Do not Forget
  • "People do not forget; People do not forget the death of their fellows; they do not forget torture and mutilations; they do not forget injustice; they do not forget oppression; they do not forget the terrorism of mighty powers; they not only do not forget, they also strike back. Harold Pinter, Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech, 2005 Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
  • Seven Stones to Rapa
  • Links
  • Ain't Gonna Take It Anymore
  • Spadoman's Peace Blog
  • Is America Burning
  • Sacrificed for Empire
  • Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
  • Algiers Attack - UN deaths
    Latest photos from Iraq - Boston.com - Middle East...
    Orphans of Baghdad
    Orphans - Abused - Special Needs
    Photoessay of Abused, Starved Children (Post below...
    Outrage! Abuse, Neglect, Starvation of Children
    Gaza: Slaughter of Civilians; Destruction of Infra...
    Gaza's Brain Drain - Destroying a People
    Why Gaza Matters
    Gaza: Hamas vs Fatah - Divide and Conquer
    Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
  • Previous Atrocities
  • archives
  • February 2006
  • March 2006
  • April 2006
  • May 2006
  • June 2006
  • July 2006
  • August 2006
  • September 2006
  • October 2006
  • November 2006
  • December 2006
  • January 2007
  • February 2007
  • March 2007
  • April 2007
  • May 2007
  • June 2007
  • July 2007
  • August 2007
  • December 2007
  • January 2008
  • February 2008
  • March 2008
  • July 2008
  • November 2008
  • December 2008
  • February 2009
  • March 2009
  • May 2009
  • July 2009
  • September 2009
  • October 2009
  • December 2009
  • Create FREE graphics at FlamingText.com