Ten months ago, in March of 2012, I wrote about the awakening of radical Islam in Africa. We noted at the time that in the countries of North Africa – Morocco, Algeria, Libya and Tunisia – the organization called “al-Qaeda of the Maghreb” operates, and from time to time kidnaps and murders tourists and professionals such as engineers who come to these countries as tourists or to perform specific functions. My conclusion at that time was:
The population of Africa is involved in a series of disputes with a tribal background, and in which the Islamist and ethnic components play an important, and sometimes critical part. The combination of Saudi Arabian money, Wahhabi propaganda, the presence of terror organizations and wide distribution of weapons (some of which disappeared from weapons storehouses of the Libyan army as a result of the fall of Qadhaffi), does not contribute to the easing of relations between various groups of the African population, and developing trends also do not indicate a tendency toward calm. Recent events in Algeria are the proof of what was already apparent: an area that is neglected by the government will become a hothouse for terror. Most of the territory of Algeria, which is more than ten times the size of Israel, is located in the vast, largely unpopulated Sahara Desert. There are small concentrations of population situated near sources of livelihood such as a spring or a well, and recently, mines and sources of energy – oil and gas. These clusters are isolated and exposed to armed groups that roam the area freely, propounding slogans and messages characteristic of al-Qaeda.
One of these groups, which calls itself the “Signed-in-Blood,” under the command of Mukhtar Belmukhtar, and numbering about forty fighters, carried out the attack on the gas drilling installation in ‘Ayn Aminas, abducted about 700 workers, some of whom were European, and held them as hostages. The subsequent attack of the Algerian army on the gas installation caused 55 fatalities: 32 terrorists and 23 hostages, and freed 685 Algerian workers and 107 foreign workers. The attackers, who arrived in several all-terrain vehicles, used heavy machine guns, rocket launchers, grenades and personal weapons, and a number of Algerian soldiers were killed and wounded in the course of the battle with them.
The world, especially the European countries, severely criticized the clumsy and unprofessional way that the Algerians dealt with the matter. In response, the government of Algeria defends itself with the claim that if they had not acted quickly and decisively, the number of victims would have been far greater.
The natural question is why a gas production facility was attacked, and what motivates the terror organizations to harm especially Algeria. The answer has to do with the developments of recent years in North Africa. The dictators of these states rule their oppressed peoples by the use of force. When Libya fell, along with it fell the doctrine that guided the West, according to which these dictators will deal in the accepted way in Africa (with determination and ruthlessness) with terrorist elements such as al-Qaeda of the Maghreb, who roam the area, threatening to overthrow the fragile regimes and establish upon their ruins Islamic states that will then export terrorism to the more affluent parts of the world.
Radical Islamic agents are involved up to their necks in the wars of Mali and Somalia and in battles that are being waged in Libya, Tunisia, Niger, Nigeria and in Kenya. The murder of the American ambassador in Libya last September was only one example of these groups’ activities. The governmental chaos that reigns in these countries creates a situation that allows the jihadi organizations to control vast territories, which serve them as a base for organization, storage of armaments and training, so that they can continue their efforts to bring down African states, whose illegitimate boundaries were demarcated by colonialism, with the aim of dismantling the nation of Islam into small, weak units.
European workers who come to the African countries are perceived as an offshoot of colonialism, because their whole task – in the eyes of the jihadists – is to strengthen Western hegemony over the peoples of Africa, on their habitat and their natural resources, to employ and exploit them and turn them again into slaves of the smug and arrogant West. That is why these organizations abduct European workers; it is to discourage other Europeans from coming. And the ransom money paid by the companies greases the wheels of these jihadi organizations. They spend the infidels’ money on acquisition of weapons, ammunition, communications equipment, navigation equipment and vehicles, and the money also allows the organizations to purchase collaborative activity from other groups among the population, and to bribe governmental officials and military and intelligence personnel.
About the Author: Dr. Mordechai Kedar (Ph.D. Bar-Ilan U.) Served for 25 years in IDF Military Intelligence specializing in Arab political discourse, Arab mass media, Islamic groups and the Syrian domestic arena. A lecturer in Arabic at Bar-Ilan U., he is also an expert on Israeli Arabs.
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