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Terrorism & Security

Bombing suggests Al Qaeda remains a threat in Algeria

Counterterrorism efforts by the Algerian government and the US are failing to stem terrorism in the region.

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The group's reach extends beyond Algeria as well. In April, US officials said they feared that Al Qaeda may be expanding across Africa, reported The New York Times.

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Just as the Qaeda leadership has been able to reconstitute itself in Pakistan's ungoverned tribal areas, Al Qaeda's North Africa offshoot is now running small training camps for militants from Morocco, Tunisia and as far away as Nigeria, according to the State Department and Mr. Droukdal. The State Department in April categorized the tribal areas and Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb as the two top hot spots in its annual report on global terrorism.

In January, AQIM launched an attack on the Israeli embassy in the Mauritanian capital of Noukchott which wounded three people, reports Al Jazeera. A string of bombings in Morocco in 2003 was also linked to the group.

According to Reuters, the United States is also attempting to curtail the group's activities.

In Washington, on July 17, the U.S. Treasury moved to freeze assets of four Algerians it said were leaders of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, naming them as Salah Gasmi, Yahia Djouadi, Ahmed Deghdegh, and Abid Hammadou. The move bans Americans from doing business with them and seeks to freeze any assets they might have under U.S. jurisdiction.

The Reuters report adds that the Algerian government has also been making efforts to confront the local wing of Al Qaeda. Four militants were killed in July, one during the Lakhdaria suicide bombing that injured 13 soldiers. In spite of that incident, the number of people to be killed in political violence in Algeria declined from 27 people in June to nine last month.

Just 10 days before the most recent bombing, the Algerian government announced a goal of securing Tizi Ouzou by 2009, reports France 24. Despite these efforts, pundits say that Sunday's attack shows that the government has so far been unable to defeat AQIM.

Sunday's bombing in Tizi Ouzou underlines Algeria's inability to effectively stamp out terrorism. Algerian security services have improved their counterterrorism tactics since the 1990s but formation of the group Al Qaeda in the Maghreb in 2006 has reinvigorated terrorism across the country despite increased police raids and the stricter control of chemicals used in bomb making.
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