Despite Calm, Algeria Keeps Its Focus on Terror in Tribal Areas
By: Atef Kedadra Translated from El-Khabar (Algeria).
Despite terrorist attack [on Aug. 2] targeting Algerian border guards near the Moroccan border, security operations are still focused on tribal areas, while the province of Bouira has witnessed the return of security tensions.
About This Article
Ramadan for Algeria’s tribal residents used to mean hunkering down in preparation for a month of sporadic terrorist attacks. This year, the holy month has been characterized by an uneasy calm in many remote regions despite the occasional al-Qaeda strike. Atef Kedadra reports.Publisher: El-Khabar (Algeria)
Based on a Security Estimation: Tribal Areas Most Susceptible to Terrorist Attacks
Author: Atef Kedadra
First Published: August 12, 2012
Posted on: August 13 2012
Translated by: Naria Tanoukhi
Categories : Algeria Security
In an unprecedented security situation, suicide attacks have not taken place during Ramadan this year. These attacks were a main feature of last year’s Ramadan, during which “major” bombings were executed in the heart of Tizi Ouzou and at the military academy in Cherchell.
During the first 10 days of Ramadan, the security corps did not receive any support from municipal guards in counter-terrorism tasks. The guards were staging a sit-in in Boufarik, which lasted for days, and many of them were psychologically distressed as a result of the authorities’ negative reaction to the demands they made. Although the absence of the municipal guards had little impact in a number of provinces, its effect was clear in the province of Bouira. This province has witnessed a return of terrorist operations in the middle of Ramadan, similar to the Tizi Ouzou and Boumerdes provinces.
The current security situation appears relatively stable. For the first time since the escalation of security tensions in the country, analysts agree that the drop in the frequency of terrorist operations is due to the weakening of [al-Qaeda], rather than a deliberate decision on the part of al-Qaeda to “keep a low profile” with the aim of reducing the security presence [in the area]. It is known that terrorist groups are prone to carry out operations—of any kind—during the month of Ramadan, particularly during the last 10 days.
It seems that al-Qaeda has lost its ability to deploy militants throughout the region, given a strong state security presence on the African coast. Thus, there have been no reports of power reshuffling, in light of the dominance of current “field commanders” who have gained experience and military capabilities as a result of the decline of the “religious movement.” Al-Qaeda did not rush to declare a successor to terrorist “Tajir Zuhair,” the emir [Islamic commander] of the municipality of Laqata in Boumerdes Province. Zuhair was killed on the eve of the first day of Ramadan, and is the brother of terrorist “Tajir Mohammad,'' aka “Moh Jack,” who specialized in kidnapping operations across the region before he was eliminated four years ago.
The province of Bouira has witnessed sporadic terrorist attacks in recent days, exceeding the rate seen in the province in the past few years. Similar events were seen in Boumerdes, especially during the first week of Ramadan. The killing of a policeman and his father, and the injury of his brother in Manayil Tower is proof of the extent of frustration that exists toward the al-Qaeda-style operations of the organization.
The same can be said about Tizi Ouzou, where there have been attempts by al-Qaeda to kidnap wealthy figures and merchants. Also, four soldiers were wounded in Tizi Ouzou in an attack launched by a group near the village of Asomaten in Azeffoun municipality. The army was able to kill a terrorist in the city of Azazga, located about 40 kilometers east of Tizi Ouzou.
The attack by a terrorist group on a border guards patrol last week along the border with Morocco raises several questions about the identity of the perpetrators: Was it actually carried out by a terrorist group or rather a contraband mafia? Is the attack in this particular site a prelude to creating a new [terrorist] bastion on the border? Outside of the traditional strongholds where there is an ongoing “war on terror,” the border between the provinces of Tebessa and Khenchela witnessed heightened tension and security during Ramadan. According to reports from the area, there are continuing military operations in the mountainous areas separating the two provinces.
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