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Old 06-02-2010   #21
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Default Al-Qaida leader in Algeria surrenders

An intriguing report:
Quote:
The ministry says Atmane Touati — alias Abu El Abbas — gave up after his wife "convinced her husband to abandon the criminal horde and come home."
Link:http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100531/...amic_militants
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Old 07-27-2011   #22
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Default Algeria gaining time

A country that rarely allows unrestricted media access and rarely given attention, so good to see this analysis. Opens with, slightly edited:
Quote:
The Algerian government is working to prevent North Africa's revolutionary tide from reaching its shores.

For months now, Algerian authorities have been busy pre-empting a potential threat of revolution. The success of popular movements in neighbouring Tunisia and Egypt sent alarming signals to government circles that Algeria was next in line to experience revolutionary change.

The effect has been so strong that local governments in the eastern part of Algeria have instructed police to relax street regulations, including allowing motorists to drive without a proper vehicle tax document.
Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-14167481
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Old 08-26-2011   #23
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Default Book Review: The Islamist Challenge in Algeria: A Political History

Book Review: The Islamist Challenge in Algeria: A Political History

Entry Excerpt:



--------
Read the full post and make any comments at the SWJ Blog.
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Old 05-09-2012   #24
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Default Spring time election, no clearing out expected

A rare news article on Algeria, undoubtedly due to an invitation to the foreign press to report on this Thursday's elections:http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012...es-arab-spring

Alongside a comment piece:http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisf...t-expectations

Someone clearly believes in saving, saving and saving - with my emphasis:
Quote:
At present, Algeria has a staggering bank reserve of $200bn from oil and gas revenues – though the people are not benefiting from this. According to a recent report of the International Monetary Fund, youth unemployment in Algeria stands at 21% (two-thirds of the population is under the age of 35).
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Old 07-11-2012   #25
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Default Scene setting - in 1991

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Algeria wrested independence from France in 1962 after a bitter and extremely violent eight-year struggle. The legacy has continued to shadow its efforts to create a workable model of development and a humane life for its citizens. Francis Ghils invokes a wealth of memory from his years reporting Algeria - in particular, a pivotal few months in 1991 - to reflect on a compelling country's troubled half-century.
Fascinating insight:http://www.opendemocracy.net/francis...gerian-odyssey

I always puzzled at how a revolution turns in on itself and after 1991 Algerians truly terrified each other.
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Old 04-02-2013   #26
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Default Jihadists knocking on the door?

Algeria despite its size, oil & gas resources, position and history rarely gets English language coverage, it is so refreshing to see this Time article; it starts wth:
Quote:
One wet, chilly February morning, Ali Zaoui climbed into his car in Algeria’s capital, drove 300 miles south into the desert, and knocked on the door of a three-bedroom house in the oasis city of Ghardaïa. Zaoui was well known to the occupants. They were the parents of the then most wanted man in North Africa, Mokhtar Belmokhtar, the one-eyed Islamist commander who had masterminded the hostage siege in January at a natural-gas plant in his native Algeria. The attack resulted in the deaths of 38 foreigners, including managers and specialists of Western oil companies. It was Algeria’s worst terrorist attack in years, and the worst ever for the global oil industry, anywhere. Zaoui, a veteran anti-terror fighter for Algeria’s security services, had spent years coaxing armed militants to surrender under an amnesty program and had come to know Belmokhtar’s parents well over five years of trying to persuade one of Algeria’s most fearsome jihadists to surrender. He never had won over Belmokhtar. But Zaoui thought they had an understanding: Don’t target Algeria.
Link:http://world.time.com/2013/04/01/the...ttles-algeria/
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Old 09-19-2013   #27
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Default DRS marginalised?

A rare update on internal politics:http://www.economist.com/blogs/pomeg...ia-s-president

Which ends:
Quote:
Mohamed Benchicou, a respected commentator, thinks otherwise. “For the first time since independence the security services have been marginalised,” he wrote in the online journal Tout Sur l’Algérie. “God is dead.”
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Old 01-09-2014   #28
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Here some more details about Algerian experiences, which I guess might be of interest because this conflict is so underreported (the following is primarily based on interviews with various of participants)...

- The war actually began in 1987, with return of first larger groups of Algerian Islamists from Afghanistan. Primary Islamist activity was initially limited to ambushes for security forces, but also small-scale raids on isolated police stations and even military bases. Islamist operations intensified from 1991 onwards.

- The most intensive period of the war was 1994-2000, when army took over and active paramilitary cells were operating all over the country, enjoying widespread support in the population. Level of determined attacks on security forces was unprecedented and these have suffered plenty of 'minor' blows (no large-scale losses, but really hundreds of KIA; they also lost two helicopters shot down in 1994 and 1995, while carrying paras; plus five in an incident involving a defecting air force pilot who stole a Mi-17 to rocket four other helicopters at his base, and then fly the helo to one of insurgent bases).

Primarily using HUMINT but also all other means of intelligence collection (including MiG-25RB recce fighters), the security forces gradually rolled up nearly all of urban networks, forcing the Islamists to shift to rural areas, primarily to their heartlands, west and east of Algiers. The Islamists then shifted over to attacks on villages supporting the government, as well as intellectuals and foreigners. In turn, the government began launching large-scale operations, some including widespread deployment of air power, on top of usual 'commandos' (like 18th Para-Commando Regiment) and 'gendarmes'.

- 2000-2004: operating frrom their heartlands, and continuing the campaign of mass slaughter of civilians supportive of the government, and foreigners, the Islamists went over to the tactics of luring security forces into ambushes. They perfected the art of setting up ambushes or mock bases. In early 2003, the Islamists scored their biggest success. They stole a number of military vehicles then lured a company of paratroopers to 'find' these: when the paras arrived, Islamists detonated acetylene cylinders hidden inside vehicles and raked the area with gunfire. Security forces lost 49 KIA (out of 51 involved).

Security authorities reacted by improving means of intelligence collection (introduction to service of Beech 1900s, Seeker II UAVs, etc.); introduction of high-tech equipment like NVGs from USA and Qatar); and increased deployment of air power, primarily for heliborne operations (several large batches of Mi-8/17s - including FLIR-equipped variants - were purchased, 28 Mi-24s upgraded to ATE's Super Hind configuration etc.) but also purchases of PGMs (for Su-24s). A combination of advanced sensors, communications and precise geo-location technology, plus deployment of TV-guided PGMs (laser-guided systems proved less dependable for use in build-up areas and forrests), have allowed the security forces to launch a series of very precise strikes on guerrilla leaders deep within their urban and rural heartlands. The corresponding campaign was run in a particularly careful fashion, with extremely conservative ROEs - 'only verified HUMINT is of use for our operations' - limiting collateral damage to an absolute minimum (related concerns have actually strongly limited this campaign).

'Classic' example for such ops (from February 2002): Beech 1900s were used to track down one of Islamist leaders (with help from US, which provided satellite links and precise geo-location), then mapped the area with their SARs; helicopters then did the FLIR-imaging; then the ground forces went in (deployed by helos, then on foot), walked into the house, killed the guy, and went out.

Since then, the Islamists were forced further away - not only from urban centres, but indeed into the deserts of southern Algeria. By 2005, they were forced even out of the country, with very few isolated cells remaining active.
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Old 01-09-2014   #29
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CrowBat:

Thanks for this. It is under reported but is filled with things to be learned.

Early in you post you mentioned " active paramilitary cells" were those insurgent cells?

TV guided weapons where preferred in Algeria because of forests and towns. It is my understanding we mostly use laser guided or gps. Why is TV better than laser in those situations?

Your comment about restrictive rules of engagement is interesting. If I remember correctly the western media reported security force activities as mostly being of the 'kill 'em all' type. It makes reporting easier I guess. Is there more available on the why and wherefores of the ROEs that were put in place?
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Old 01-10-2014   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carl View Post
CrowBat:

Thanks for this. It is under reported but is filled with things to be learned.

Early in you post you mentioned " active paramilitary cells" were those insurgent cells?
Yup, Islamist paramilitary groups.

Quote:
TV guided weapons where preferred in Algeria because of forests and towns. It is my understanding we mostly use laser guided or gps. Why is TV better than laser in those situations?
The first problem was that of obtaining high-tech equipment. There were not many countries willing to sell laser-designators to Algerian military (especially not markers that could be carried by ground troops). Even as of 2005, the Army was still waiting for delivery of enough of these to put them into operations.

Connected with this, the laser-designators installed on QJJ's (Algerian AF) Su-24s were found unpractical for usual circumstances (they are 'good to great' for conventional warfare, but not so much if you really want to 'decapitate' the leader of some Islamist gang). The situation improved slightly only once South-African-made equipment arrived together with Mi-24 Super Hinds (together with Kentron Ingwe and Mokopa ATGMs), but overall, at the height of this war, there was no really satisfactory solution.

Quote:
Your comment about restrictive rules of engagement is interesting. If I remember correctly the western media reported security force activities as mostly being of the 'kill 'em all' type. It makes reporting easier I guess. Is there more available on the why and wherefores of the ROEs that were put in place?
Yup, I know about all the sorts of prejudice by foreigners.

Surely, the Algerian authorities were never keen about any sort of negotiations with Islamists. But then, I think this was the right decision and the time has proven them right.

That is: time - and correct ROEs. If the authorities have run their ops the way they are usually said to have done, they would turn majority of the population against them (especially because as of 1990s majority of the population was supportive for Islamists). Given the situation in Algeria, I would say that something else happened, so it's quite obvious that the ROEs were entirely different than usually said.

That said, I do not know about any printed or electronic publication. Some of the stuff I mentioned above was provided to Dr Michael Knights (WINEP) for his article on QJJ during that war, published in AirForces Monthly (UK) magazine, sometimes back in 2005. But otherwise, I really do not know about any published sources of reference.
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Old 02-01-2014   #31
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There is a good short review of the Algerian military's response to the Arab Spring by Michael Willis, alas behind the FP registration / pay wall. Then I found this alternative 'Algeria Three Years After the Arab Spring' by the German Marshall Fund of the US and the second chapter is worth reading.

Link:http://www.gmfus.org/wp-content/blog..._Jan14_web.pdf
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Last edited by davidbfpo; 02-07-2014 at 05:01 PM. Reason: Copied to here as Amenas attack posts are mainly here
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Old 02-01-2014   #32
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There is a good short review of the Algerian military's response to the Arab Spring by Michael Willis, alas behind the FP registration / pay wall. Then I found this alternative 'Algeria Three Years After the Arab Spring' by the German Marshall Fund of the US and the second chapter is worth reading.

Link:http://www.gmfus.org/wp-content/blog..._Jan14_web.pdf
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Old 02-07-2014   #33
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A very interesting file, no doubt. Still, I can't but criticise the description of how the Algerian authorities and military handled the In Amenas affair.

While spending plenty of time with description of BelkMoktar's intentions, this account provides absolutely no details about his planning, nor about how much he managed to realize (or not at all). Considering that Algerian authorities actually have no problem to provide such info, that one of USN's EP-3s from Sigonella was nearby, and that an FBI team inspected the site once this affair was over - this is quite surprising.

Namely, BelMoktar wanted to capture a bus full of foreign workers as hostages (including the Boss of the BP), destroy a part of the industrial complex - which, BTW, is some 100 square kilometres in size - in order to attract attention of security services and fire-fighters, and then, once the military and fire-fighters would enter the complex, blow up the entire complex in order to cause a maximum of destruction of casualties.

The first part of the plan was spoiled by Gendarmes that escorted the bus. They identified attackers on time and opened fire. Sure, and sadly, two passengers (one Briton and one Algerian) were killed by Jihadists (and two Gendarmes injured too), but BelMoktar didn't manage to capture the bus and had to rush into the complex with empty hands.

The guards at the main (and only) gate recognized what is going on and sounded alert; control centre shut down the entire production, and started evacuation. Means, part 2 of the plan was spoiled too.

Now, the Jihadists killed the guard who sounded alert and managed to enter the place and started planting bombs around the complex. They also managed to capture a number of foreign and Algerian workers. However, by that time no less but 600 Algerians and 134 foreigners (out of some 800 employees) were evacuated. Means: the third part of the plan was spoiled too.

It was only then that BelMoktar began babbling about French ops in Mali and Algerian support for the same - and he did so while trying to open negotiations with Algerian authorities.

This is making it instantly clear that the story about the authorities not negotiating with BelMoktar being a hogwash. They did. Otherwise, the Jihadists wouldn't get a number of 4x4 vehicles from authorities, the following night, and wouldn't be able to load these with hostages and try to escape.

The security services went into action when that column drove out of the complex - and then because they realized that the cars in question contained only a part of Jihadists and their hostages: this made it obvious that those remaining inside the complex have decided to blow themselves and their hostages up. And in such cases, ladies and gentlemen, there is simply no other solution but 'assault the place'. That was when Mi-24s became involved. They set two vehicles on fire, while the third was detonated by one of occupants and set on fire. This is where most of hostages were killed.

Meanwhile, the Jihadists that remained inside the complex have started to liquidate hostages. However, Beech 1900s have blocked most of explosive vests the Jihadists installed on hostages, and thus only one of these was killed.

In summary, the Algerians killed 32 Jihadists, and captured four or five alive (not only 3; although this might be a figure released by the authorities 'for public consumption'). About 40 hostages were killed too (including Algerian workers, not only foreigners). Eight ANP troops were WIA. BelMoktar's gang has left behind a significant arsenal, including two mortars, at least two RPG-7 launchers, several dozens of mines, about two dozens of machine guns, over 50 hand grenades etc.

Last edited by davidbfpo; 02-07-2014 at 05:01 PM. Reason: Copied to here as Amenas attack posts are mainly here
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Old 02-07-2014   #34
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A very interesting file, no doubt. Still, I can't but criticise the description of how the Algerian authorities and military handled the In Amenas affair.

While spending plenty of time with description of BelkMoktar's intentions, this account provides absolutely no details about his planning, nor about how much he managed to realize (or not at all). Considering that Algerian authorities actually have no problem to provide such info, that one of USN's EP-3s from Sigonella was nearby, and that an FBI team inspected the site once this affair was over - this is quite surprising.

Namely, BelMoktar wanted to capture a bus full of foreign workers as hostages (including the Boss of the BP), destroy a part of the industrial complex - which, BTW, is some 100 square kilometres in size - in order to attract attention of security services and fire-fighters, and then, once the military and fire-fighters would enter the complex, blow up the entire complex in order to cause a maximum of destruction of casualties.

The first part of the plan was spoiled by Gendarmes that escorted the bus. They identified attackers on time and opened fire. Sure, and sadly, two passengers (one Briton and one Algerian) were killed by Jihadists (and two Gendarmes injured too), but BelMoktar didn't manage to capture the bus and had to rush into the complex with empty hands.

The guards at the main (and only) gate recognized what is going on and sounded alert; control centre shut down the entire production, and started evacuation. Means, part 2 of the plan was spoiled too.

Now, the Jihadists killed the guard who sounded alert and managed to enter the place and started planting bombs around the complex. They also managed to capture a number of foreign and Algerian workers. However, by that time no less but 600 Algerians and 134 foreigners (out of some 800 employees) were evacuated. Means: the third part of the plan was spoiled too.

It was only then that BelMoktar began babbling about French ops in Mali and Algerian support for the same - and he did so while trying to open negotiations with Algerian authorities.

This is making it instantly clear that the story about the authorities not negotiating with BelMoktar being a hogwash. They did. Otherwise, the Jihadists wouldn't get a number of 4x4 vehicles from authorities, the following night, and wouldn't be able to load these with hostages and try to escape.

The security services went into action when that column drove out of the complex - and then because they realized that the cars in question contained only a part of Jihadists and their hostages: this made it obvious that those remaining inside the complex have decided to blow themselves and their hostages up. And in such cases, ladies and gentlemen, there is simply no other solution but 'assault the place'. That was when Mi-24s became involved. They set two vehicles on fire, while the third was detonated by one of occupants and set on fire. This is where most of hostages were killed.

Meanwhile, the Jihadists that remained inside the complex have started to liquidate hostages. However, Beech 1900s have blocked most of explosive vests the Jihadists installed on hostages, and thus only one of these was killed.

In summary, the Algerians killed 32 Jihadists, and captured four or five alive (not only 3; although this might be a figure released by the authorities 'for public consumption'). About 40 hostages were killed too (including Algerian workers, not only foreigners). Eight ANP troops were WIA. BelMoktar's gang has left behind a significant arsenal, including two mortars, at least two RPG-7 launchers, several dozens of mines, about two dozens of machine guns, over 50 hand grenades etc.
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Old 02-14-2014   #35
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Default The Decline of Islamist Parties in Algeria

There is a Presidential election in April 2014, yes I know what does that actually mean?

In rare coverage of Algeria, Carnegie have published a short article (as per title):http://carnegieendowment.org/sada/20...n-algeria/h0s4

Here is a taster:
Quote:
A few months ahead of the presidential elections—and despite their pronouncements—the Islamists have not only proven unprepared but also unable to rally behind a consensus candidate. This is a strong indication that they lack a real electoral future.

(Ends) The images from Egypt and Syria serve as painful reminders, and the belief that a vote for the Islamists will not be the solution to Algeria’s problems seems to have only strengthened.
What happens in Algeria IMHO matters in the Arab World, not for the "man in street", rather those who today have the power.
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Old 03-29-2014   #36
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Default Algeria’s ‘Years of Blood’: Not Quite What They Seem

A short, useful article on the 'dirty war' and ends with:
Quote:
Grant it to the Algerian regime: they orchestrated this brilliantly. When the wave of rebellions broke on the Arab world in 2010, they hardly touched Algeria. The population was frightened of the Islamists and frightened of a return to violence; the Islamists were broken, splintered into too many factions to be any kind of force. The security services had done their work: whatever the level of discontent with their colourless rule, the population is now convinced that the only alternative is takfirism—and for the urban, the secular (a large number in Algeria), and the women and national minorities like the Berbers this is enough to hold together a strategic majority for the regime.
Link:http://kyleorton1991.wordpress.com/2...hat-they-seem/
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Old 05-17-2014   #37
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Default Terrible actions in Algeria, now Nigeria

The first of three old articles by the late Mahfoud Bennoune, an Algerian academic, which will appear slowly till July and starts that the late Nigerian writer, Wole Soyinka:
Quote:
believed that one of the best ways to comprehend the kind of horror that is happening in Nigeria is to remember the experience of other nations in the region confronted with jihadist groups much like Boko Haram.
Then asks:
Quote:
Some of the most common reactions to the mass kidnapping of school girls by the jihadist group Boko Haram in Nigeria are to ask questions like: how can this be happening? Why would anyone do something so terrible?
Link:http://www.opendemocracy.net/5050/ma...n-mindlessness
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Old 09-26-2014   #38
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Default Algeria: North Africa’s reluctant policeman

An important, concise explanation of how Algeria is working, this time with the emphasis on diplomacy, although other capabilities are still around:http://africanarguments.org/2014/09/...-imad-mesdoua/

Quote:
Officials in Algeria still hope they can steer the region away from simplistic military interventionism, towards political solutions and “greater responsibility”.

(Ends with) The fierce debate raging inside the Algerian regime over greater or less interventionist action will continue. For now, North Africa’s ‘reluctant policeman’ will no doubt stick to a number of its non-interventionist dogmas. However, should a cataclysmic event like In Amenas occur on Algerian soil once more, the country will have no choice but to take decisive action.
Author's bio:http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/imad-mesdoua/

Now for something different, as Professor John Schindler refers to Algeria within a wider article on counter-terrorism is not always what you think you see:http://20committee.com/2014/09/25/wh...rism-is-wrong/

Scheming and ruthless come to mind.
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Old 02-20-2015   #39
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Default Overview

A good overview of Algeria, both the wider context and the byzantine details of those in power or seeking power within:http://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/a...cession-crisis

Interesting to note protests against fracking as locals feared water depletion.
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Old 07-19-2015   #40
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Default Algeria's Islamist Revival

An unusual article on Algerian politics and society via Carnegie:http://carnegie-mec.org/2015/06/26/s...-is-clear/ib67

It ends with:
Quote:
Twenty-three years after the bloodiest chapter in contemporary Algeria, with 150,000 dead and 7,000 missing, victims of a war between the state and armed Islamist groups during which a whole society was held hostage, things do not appear to be very optimistic: here we are again in the same place caught between a patriarchal state and an Islamist revival.
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