THE MAGHREB SURGE
The civil war in Algeria, which breached out in 1992, was one of the main sources of enthusiastic men power for the Global Jihad, Al Qaeda and Islamic militancy in Europe. Thousands of Islamists fled Algeria to Europe and flourished in the liberal atmosphere and protection of freedom of speech and human rights. Indeed most of the terror cells and networks in Europe, that were uncovered in the last 7 years, were based on the North African Diaspora in Europe.
The determination and success of the security services in Europe to dismantle the North African terror cells, the general world wide retreat of Al Qaeda in the Arab world and the Muslim world, especially in Iraq, limited and restricted the operational options of Islamic militants over the world. Many Algerians and Moroccans returned to their homeland countries and brought upon a new surge of Islamic militancy and violence to North Africa. North Africa – the Maghreb is today the only region in the world where the Global Jihad is increasing rather then decreasing.
Algeria became the epicenter of the new MAGHREB al-Qaeda and despite tremendous success of the local security to foil dozens of terror attacks a year and arrests of hundreds of militants – bomb attacks, terror and casulties are, unfortunately, a common event.
Algeria of 2008 is very different from Algeria of 1992. Algeria experienced the horror of the civil war in the 90s’ when about 160,000 people were killed, economy deteriorated and the country was drained from its brains and its future when a whole young talented generation fled the country.
Today Algeria is after two rounds of free elections, thanks to the high oil prices there is a substantial economic progress and level of life is on the rise. There no desire to renew the civil war – on the contrary there is fear that Algeria will plunge again to the horrendous 90s’.
Despite the surge of Islamic militancy, MAGHREB al-Qaeda is running out of time. It is not the army or the security services that will, eventually, overcome Al Qaeda in North Africa, but the lack of public support and the new optimistic atmosphere of the country.