Monday, January 21, 2013
Bloodbath In Algeria With Hostage Rescue Attempt...War On Jihad Spreads To Maghreb
The latest battleground in the War on Jihad is North Africa and the Maghreb,the northern Muslim rim of Africa. The 'mainly Taureg area' notation refers to the indigenous desert Taureg tribes, who've been fighting some of the surrounding governments for years and are now being used as jihadi shock troops by Al Qaeda in the Maghreb (AQIM).
This is a vast area almost the size of Western Europe.
The ill-advised western intervention to overthrow Moamar Khaddaffi is spawning a number of unpleasant consequences as al-Qaeda and other salifists relocate back to the Arab world to take advantage of the new empowerment of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood and the Arab Spring.
The site of the latest atrocity was Algeria's In Amenas natural gas facility near the Libyan border, which was targeted by AQIM in response to France sending in troops to the North African country of Mali to war against a threatened takeover of another AQIM affiliated group, Ansar al Dine which already controlled the Northern part of the country. Ansar al Dine had launched an offensive against Bamako, the capitol which came seriously close to succeeding and probably would have without theF rench intervention.
Both Ansar al Dine and the perpetrators of the attack on the In Amenas natural gas facility were well supplied with arms that came out of former Libyan dictator Moamar Khaddaffi's arsenals.
Since Khaddaffi's overthrow and subsequent assassination, the security situation in Libya has visibly worsened.
The military has essentially dissolved and weapons from Khaddaffi's armed forces have flooded the markets in the region. A stable and sustainable government has yet to take hold and a lot of the power still rests with competing groups, a number of whom are affiliated with al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood.
Many of the AQIM affiliates have made a business out of kidnapping westerners working at oil facilities in the region.
The attack on In Menas was carried out by The Signed-In-Blood Battalion, an offshoot of AQIM. The group is led by a one-eyed veteran of Algeria's civil war, named Mokhtar Belmokhtar.
The group attacked the facility at dawn on Wednesday, overwhelming the and taking a number of foreigners hostage. According to one BP worker there, they were told by the attackers "'You have nothing to do with this. You are Algerians and Muslims. We only want the foreigners.'"
Most of the plant's 700 workers either eluded capture of managed to hide from the jihadis, but a number of non-Muslim hostages were taken, and many had explosives wired to them.
The jihadi's demands were that France pull its troops out of Mali and that the U.S. free two terrorist icons.
Sheik Abdul Ramen, AKA 'The Blind Sheik' who played a major role in planning the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993 and is serving a life sentence is high on every Islamist's wish list. No less than Egypt's new Muslim Brotherhood Presixdent Mohammed Morsi vowed to free the Sheik in his inaugural speech.
The jihadis also demanded the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani scientist who was convicted in 2010 of attempting to kill U.S. FBI agents and military officers after she was detained by police while trying to enter Afghanistan back in 2008.
When the FBI agents began asking her a few questions, she reportedly snatched an untended M-16 ( don't ask me whose error in judgement that was) and started shooting at them while yelling, "Death to Americans!"
Instead of wasting any time on things like negotiations, the Algerian military simply cowboyed things and attacked the site, something a number of experts criticized them for. Reportedly, they did not inform any of the countries whose nationals were believed to be hostages before undertaking the raid.
All of the hostages were killed, as well as 32 jihadis. So far, they've found the bodies of 23 hostages, and the death toll is almost certain to rise and the plan is secured.
This is something like standard procedure for hostage situations in Algeria, of which there have been far too many since the civil war. The Algerian security forces normally assume that any hostages are dead meat anyway, and therefore, everybody dies. The fact that those hostages are non-Muslim ferenghi makes a decision like that even easier.
Mokhtar Belmokhtar has promised that there will be more attacks until their demands are met and given the state of things in the Maghreb and in Mali,we can probably expect more of these.
The ironic thing in all this is that while Moamar Khaddaffi was in charge in Libya, he was actually helping us take out elements of AQIM, because he saw them as a threat to his rule. Perhaps the Obama Administration should have thought twice before jumping into Libya and helping the people whom ousted him. They're increasingly turning out to be a change for the worse.
As for Mali, don't be surprised to see U.S. involvement there eventually. According to State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, we already have 'military trainers' there to train African troops as they deploy in Mali, as well as drones and that wonderfully loose term 'logistical support.'
The last time we did this in tandem with the French over half a century ago, our military trainers in South Vietnam (known then as 'advisers') ended up taking a vastly increased role beyond anything we anticipated, we ended up paying all of the costs of France's intervention and then taking over for them in the end.