The recent terror attacks in Algeria illustrates how burying one's head in the sand does nothing to protect your ass. Terror expert Dominique Thomas says the recent bombings in Algeria may presage the emergence of an international terror network in North Africa with targets extending into Europe. Time says much the same thing.
A vicious alliance feeds the ambitions of the group claiming responsibility for the series of massive bombs that rocked the Algerian capital today, killing at least 23 people and wounding about 160. Formerly known as the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, the radical Islamist organization changed its name in mid-2006 to Al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) when it became allied with Al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia, the organization once led by America's former nemesis in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Upon Zarqawi's death in June 2006, these two geographical arms of al-Qaeda were given the regional assignment of fighting the "infidel" by Osama bin Laden's deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri, who proclaimed their allegiance to al-Qaeda's global jihad. The Mesopotamian group was supposed to tackle the Americans in Iraq while AQIM was told to interact with groups battling the secular regimes in Algeria, Libya, Tunisia and Morocco as well as France and Western Europe.
With its own interests at stake, France is complaining that a policy of appeasing the Islamist extremists achieves nothing.
With 15 years of a violent civil war against Islamist radicals, Algeria had attempted to preempt the dangers posed by the extremists by offering amnesties and granting religious authorities more influence in local government and social affairs. "They were hoping to buy peace at home by avoiding conflict with the AQIM," sniffs the French official. "Today's bombing was the AQIM's way of saying, 'Ha, ha — fooled you. Now you're going to pay.'"
The French continue their disparagement of appeasement.
The French look askance at Algeria's policy of accommodating Islamist sentiments (the French also feel the same about Britain's stance of tolerating extremists organizations as long as Islamist terror spares the U.K.). They say that the effort to "placate radicals" resulted in a chilling of relations with France — one consequence of which has been "choking off counterterror cooperation down to virtually nothing." Says the French intelligence official, "It simply gave extremists the space and time to regroup, recruit, raise money, and plan something spectacular."
Funny that the French don't see "engagement" and resolving the Palestinian issue as the solution to their own problems. But then again, why would they? France has a long and questionable record in North Africa and the Middle East. Syria and Lebanon were once in the French "sphere" of influence. Algeria was once a part of Metropolitan France.
Maybe the real truth is that the current world crisis is rooted somewhat more deeply than in the dispute over Israel and that the idea one can escape from its toils by surrendering Iraq isn't so good after all.