December 19, 2007


Al Qaeda in North Africa takes new tack amid losses : The group that claimed responsibility for blasts in Algeria has failed to reach broader goals (Sebastian Rotella, 12/19/07, Los Angeles Times)

In fact, the Algerian military has recently inflicted damage on the group, chopping away at its rural strongholds and capturing or slaying leaders, experts say. Moreover, the network has suffered from infighting and struggled to mold a North Africa-wide offshoot of Al Qaeda, according to authorities.

"Al Qaeda in the Maghreb has not been able to show it has achieved its announced goal of regional federation," said a senior British anti-terrorism official. "I am not seeing real operational control by Al Qaeda central."

As United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visited Algiers on Tuesday to pay homage to 17 employees killed at a U.N. complex there, North African and European security forces were on alert against a network striving to reassert itself. The strikes against the U.N. and the Constitutional Court continued a strategic shift from guerrilla combat against Algerian security forces to an Iraq-style campaign of suicide attacks and roadside bombings against national and foreign targets. [...]

Experts believe the Algiers bombings were a gambit by Abdelmalek Droukdel, the network's leader, to demonstrate viability and overcome battlefield defeats by adopting a new form of warfare. With skillful propaganda, target selection and militants willing to die, even a weakened network can have an international impact and, in some ways, become more dangerous.

Al Qaeda in Iraq prompted first a ruthless response from the Shi'ites and then from fed up Sunni tribesmen. It has been reduced to a sideshow. Let's hope that's the path Droukdel has chosen.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 19, 2007 6:50 AM
Comments for this post are closed.