Middle East > Algeria

Islamist Raid on Gas Facility in Algeria Spillover from Regional Instability?

Long-time jihadist kingpin could be behind attack


in amenas

Yesterday, Al-Qaeda linked Islamist militants seized BP's In Amenas gas facility in Algeria, about 20 miles from the Libyan border, in retaliation for the ongoing French-led military intervention in Mali. Initial reports indicated at least 40 hostages taken. The Algerian government attempted a rescue for which details are murky: Algeria claimed it freed 600 hostages in a rescue attempt while the Islamists claimed 35 hostages were killed. The United States, meanwhile, provided support  with surveillance from a drone deployed to the area.

Earlier this month, on the eve of the long-awaited intervention in Mali, a French "anti-terrorism" judge warned that it could lead to terrorist attacks on the homeland. One of France's stated goals in the intervention was to push back against Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Mahgreb (AQIM), the regional affiliate. The U.S. shares the view, seeing the fight against Islamists in Mali as crucial to stop AQIM from gaining "traction." Islamists have a foothold in Algeria, though, where a fierce civil war between the government and Islamist rebels lasted from 1991 to 2002. And in Libya, Al-Qaeda affiliates and other Islamist groups have been able to gain a foothold as well since the Western-backed collapse of the Qaddafi regime. While the dictator Moammar Qaddafi initially blamed Al Qaeda and acid on the uprising against his unpopular rule, in the fallout from the 9/11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Lt. Colonel Anthony Wood stated at a congressional hearing that Al Qaeda's presence in Libya was "certainly more established than we are." Qaddafi's Tuareg fighters, meanwhile, helped fuel the unrest in Mali, a country considered "one of the most enlightened democracies in Africa" by the U.S. government until the March coup, the invasion by Islamist fighters and now the French intervention, which has brought out the worse of the Sahara. Reuters relays reports of the jihadist "kingpin" believed to be behind the capture ofthe oil field in Algeria:

A Mauritanian news agency, ANI, said the raiders were commanded by Mokhtar Belmokhtar, a veteran Saharan jihadist and smuggling kingpin. Here are some facts about Belmokhtar:

Linked to a string of kidnappings of foreigners in North Africa in the last decade, Algerian-born Belmokhtar has earned a reputation as one of the most daring and elusive Islamic jihadist leaders operating in one of the remotest corners of the globe—the vast Sahara desert. 

"He's one of the best known warlords of the Sahara," said Stephen Ellis, an expert on organised crime and professor at the African Studies Centre in Leiden, the Netherlands. He said Belmokhtar had also gained notoriety as a Saharan smuggler, especially of cigarettes.

French intelligence dubbed Belmokhtar "the uncatchable" in 2002.

800 more French troops, meanwhile, joined the fighting in Mali today.

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  1. Move along folks, nothing to see here. No such thing as blowback.

    1. What the hell, Hugh? Are you trying to kill people’s WAR BONERS?

    2. Can you prove that this wouldn’t have happened if the French had not taken military action in Mali?

      Prove it! Prove that it wouldn’t have happened!

      You can’t do it!

      So it’s not blowback!

    3. What isn’t blowback?

      1. ..spillover isn’t blowback; or is it?

        1. When Nick Gillepsie gets gutted and disembowled for Reason publishing the Mohammad cartoons and celebrating draw the Prophet Muhammad day… that’ll be spillover too.

          Blowback, spillover… it’s all Krayewski-Feeney stupidity.

          America should have taken the German U-boot threat more seriously and never got involved in World War I or II. Man was there some spillover.

      2. So you’ve gone from blowback doesn’t exist to everything is blowback?

        1. No, you’ve gone from being dishonest to staying dishonest. I’m clearly implicating you people as prone to labelling everything as blowback.

          1. I’m clearly implicating you people as prone to labelling everything as blowback.

            Straw men are made of straw.

          2. Just out of curiosity, why are you so hostile to the concept of blowback.

            I understand that it is not intentional, and you don’t go dropping bombs on people with the intention of them fighting back.

            But why are you so hostile to the idea that it might exist?

            You’re like a liberal who focuses on intentions and sings “Lalalala I can’t hear you lalalala” when someone tries to talk about results.

            1. I think that he’s hostile because it give lie to the filth his imams have been preaching, that no colonial or western power has done anything bad to the heathen savages – and that thus their violence is a sign of their utter evil – justifying their extermination.

              Jihadis like Cyto cannot accept anything that implies that heretics, apostates and unbelievers aren’t undeserving of extermination.

              1. Are you always this bitchy and purple-prosed when you’re stumped tarran?

              2. So they can murder Nick Gillespie for drawing the prophet Muhammad and the kill Americans and Frenchmen for protecting innocent Muslims? What?

            2. But why are you so hostile to the idea that it might exist?

              Because if there might be consequences to his bloodthirst, then it might not be a good idea.

              And the recurrent fantasy that 9/11 was a completely unprovoked attack. That some terrorist fuckwads just randomly threw a dart and said “Hey, let’s attack that ‘America’ place. Am I pronouncing it right?”

              Of course, denying blowback does undercut the Iraq War defense of “fight ’em over there so we don’t have to fight ’em over here.” If we were never going to have to fight them over here (blowback isn’t real), then why were we fighting them over there?

              1. This is one area where modern nation states really were a step in a barbaric direction…

                Wars are generally waged over economic concerns… access to resources etc. Kings make their decisions based on naked self interest, meaning that they will make peace when it’s in their interest to do so.

                In a modern republic or democracy, the guys who see war in their economic interest have to work harder to get one started, usually by propagandizing the electorate into seeing it as a moral imperative that justifies a fight to the death.

                The electorate, then, is loath to stop fighting, even when the war becomes counterproductive on an economic front.

                In World War I, this idea really made its splash – neither the French govt, German govt nor English govt could politically make peace without being thrown out of power, so an entire generation of men was nearly annihilated by shell and machine gun fire.

              2. Blowback is a strategically relevant, but morally beside the point. But lots of dishonest/illogical debaters pretend strategic and moral are the same thing.

            3. I thought he was trying pin down what was and was not “blowback” – some dude who has been banditing in the area for over a decade gets his kidnapping on and it is blowback for Frogs In Mali…maybe. Guys shooting at the Foreign Legion in the Taureg – definitely.

              Because someone says they are doing something because of ________ [Israel existing, a YouTube video was posted, Australians and others go to Bali and drink alcohol, etc] may not be the actual reason they are doing it. I guess you have to look at each thing and judge.

              1. Because someone says they are doing something because of ________ [Israel existing, a YouTube video was posted, Australians and others go to Bali and drink alcohol, etc] may not be the actual reason they are doing it. I guess you have to look at each thing and judge.

                True, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they aren’t. People kill each other over irrational things. In 1859, the U.S. and the U.K almost went to war over a pig.

                1. Or, The War of Jenkins’ Ear?

                  Sure, people do sometimes make it very clear what they aim to do … some German fella even wrote a book, years ahead of time saying exactly what he would do, if he ever had the chance.

                  1. some German fella even wrote a book, years ahead of time saying exactly what he would do, if he ever had the chance.

                    Yup, absolutely. This is why I usually take people at their word unless given reason otherwise, which is just the other side of the coin of your original post.

                    1. HM, it is just a matter of weighing consistency, evidence backing up claims, etc. Not easy in some cases (such as this one).

                  1. This is why you are my White Brother.

                  2. “Border clashes between Florida and Georgia continued for the next few years, but there were no further offensive operations on the American mainland by either nation.”

                    Wait, the SEC was involved too?!

              2. LTC(ret) John,

                cytotoxic wants to (and has before) deny that blowback exists and has never occurred ever, just like he and certain other people want to deny that occupying a country or droning innocents doesn’t create people who want to harm us.

                It’s utter nonsense.

                1. occupying a country or droning innocents doesn’t create people who want to harm us

                  Because that is not the intention it is impossible for that to be the result.

                  1. Because that is not the intention it is impossible for that to be the result.

                    And it denies basic human nature. You drone my kids, I don’t give a shit your intentions, your goals, your lofty ideals… I am now your enemy. With little legal recourse, I’m prone to take up arms.

                    1. So where are the Panamanian suicide bombers?

                  2. For an occupation, depends on what is done – not a lot of blowback in post-war Germany, S. Korea. On the other hand, the Israelis could point to all sorts of pains in the arse in occupying Gaza (hence they left).
                    Droning one AQ dude and 28 others unrelated is a bit more obvious in its anger rousing. I think the calculus that O! is using is “so what” some pack of poverty stricken Pashtun in the N.W. Frontier get fried, they can’t do anything about it/to us (ie. might makes right style argument). I rather hate the practice on moral grounds mostly, and somewhat on its operational to strategic flaws…but mostly morally.

                2. I do understand he is fairly resistant to the idea of “blowback” in such situations, but may have asked a good question…. that can happen, sometimes, even by an ardent opponent of an idea or such.

                  1. I’m hostile to it because it explains everything and is unfalsifiable or in other words, it’s bullshit. It’s nothing more than the morality mechanism for the The Faith of Noninterventionism.

                    1. Cyto – that a bit imprecise. Rather, pick examples held up as such and disprove/argue against.

                    2. I’m also hostile to the notion that ‘blowback’ is driving Jihadism when the jihadists have been quite explicit that it isn’t. The motive of Islamic terrorists is Islam. Hence the stated desire to take back Al-Andalus, destroy the Jews, kill cartoonists etc. Those who say otherwise are willfully blind. They mistake non-action by government for peace and place a higher priority on it than liberty.

                    3. Truly you have thoroughly slain the “It’s all blowback” strawman.

                    4. OK, that is getting better…. but in this particular instance, was the Scarlet Pteronel, or whatever he is called (Uncatchable?) driven by those motives? Was he just a hired gun or opportunist?

                    5. I’m also hostile to the notion that ‘blowback’ is driving Jihadism when the jihadists have been quite explicit that it isn’t.

                      What about the jihadist quoted below? Guy with initials OBL…

                      We declared jihad against the US government, because the US government is unjust, criminal and tyrannical. It has committed acts that are extremely unjust, hideous and criminal whether directly or through its support of the Israeli occupation of the Prophet’s Night Travel Land (Palestine). And we believe the US is directly responsible for those who were killed in Palestine, Lebanon and Iraq.

                  2. but may have asked a good question

                    Well, then the question really becomes “Would they have done this, in this way, at this time, if not for the Mali intervention?”

                    I don’t know enough to say. It’s an interesting question and a valid one, but the questioner has a multiply-stated agenda, so I also can’t say if it’s an honest question or just another stalking horse.

                    1. SF, exactly – this is one of things like when a court doesn’t have a bright line test, but has to examine each case on its merits. Right now I am waffling on this particular raid being Mali driven. It is possible, but the figure mentioned has a long history of being banditti, and Algeria had one of the more hideous civil wars/Islamic insurgencies around, none too long ago. The body count there made Afghanistan look like a simple assault in an otherwise peaceful suburb.

                    2. To answer your question: this guy would be violent Mali or no Mali. He picked this particular moment because of Mali. That’s not ‘blowback’ as I have come to understand the term but retaliation (by proxy).

          3. you people

            How othering of you. And RACIST!1!, but then you already knew that.

    4. Hey, I know – Ron Paul was schooled on this by Rudy Guliasshole in 2008.

    5. How is it blowback when it is the Islamists who are intervening in the region?

      It’s Krayewski typical stupid thinking to suggest that it is the invading Islamists who are retaliating.

      It’s like saying the threat of U-Boots in the Gulf of Mexico was retaliation for going to war against Nazi Germany.

  2. You know, this feeling of it being right before the rise of fascism and a world war. . .it’s getting stronger for some reason. Maybe it’s the soup I had for lunch.

    1. We told you to stay away from the lentil and kidney bean soup…but nooooo, you wouldn’t listen.

      1. But Lebensraum stew is so tasty!

        1. Their are ominous rumblings from Prussia… but it may simply be the sausages.

  3. I am certainly glad the Frenchies are in there. AQIM must be destroyed.

    1. Yep, it’s about time other people besides Americans took the lead in stopping violent Islamism.

  4. I wonder if the French will need to invent a word for “victory”?


    1. Napoleon?

      1. Waterloo?

            1. Sorry, but the Franks under Charles kicked quite a bit of ass. But things fell apart afterwards, and the loser Franks became the French.

              And if anyone wants to nominate William the Bastard, let me point out that he was actually a Viking, his French-speaking ways notwithstanding.

              1. So you’re saying the French term for “victory” is Charles in Charge?

                1. Not him. The other Charles the Great.

                  Also, Clovis and Charles Martel.

              2. I’m going to indulge in some authority fellatio: Charlemagne was a great ruler and he nearly made the Holy Roman Empire worth something. Then his sons fucked it all up.

                1. I’m going to indulge in some authority fellatio

                  Now that’s blowback! Right in the back of your mouth!

                  1. …now, that’s hilarious.

                  2. I laughed!

          1. Sedan?


            1. If they were in Renaults, no wonder the Prussians kicked their butts.

    2. Algeria(They won it before they gave it up)?

  5. French intelligence dubbed Belmokhtar “the uncatchable” in 2002.

    Forget it Javier, it’s Algeriatown.

  6. “one of the most enlightened democracies in Africa”

    1. I asked in the other thread but you never answered me Slappy. Why don’t you link your name to the American Third Reich anymore?

      1. Shut up.

        1. It’s that kind of cleverness and wit with words which clearly demonstrates the inherent superiority of white people. Well done.

          1. “White People” Dammit, Hugh. Only a self-hating White would fail to capitalize his race (the only thing you need to know about anyone.)

            1. “his race”

              Ahem…his Race.

              You wouldn’t be one of them thar mud people, wood yer?

              1. I hear and accept the lesson you present, my White Brother.

          2. Has a positive id been made?

  7. I bet those Neo-Cons are really pissed of that those frogs are sending their children to die, those should be our children!

    1. As long as Mooslems are getting blown up it’s all good.

      1. Yes, but that means we aren’t the GREATEST COUNTRY ON EARTH!!! anymore.

      2. Why are you goading it? It is apparently damaged and (intellectually) helpless. I bet you pull the wings off flies too.

  8. “Uncatchable” is a lame nickname for such a villain and, I’d wager, partly the reason why he raided/seized a gas facility. Now they will call him Ballsy McBallstein.

    1. “The Scarlet Petronel”?

  9. I’m surprised that Block Yomomma and his dick-suckers in the media didn’t blame this one on that stupid YouTube video also.

  10. The odor of barbecued swine and liquor has been corrupting nostrils of the holy. Everywhere in Algiers and the Casbah there is that devilish temptation. It is no wonder that Islamic militants have gone on a Jihad.

    1. Is that a Clash song?

      1. If not, it should have been.

        1. Sharif don’t like it.
          Rock the jihad!
          Rock the jihad!

  11. Sounds like the Algerians were being proud and decided to handle the situation with their own troops – who predictably fucked it up by the numbers.

    I would be surprised if French Commandos and maybe American Special Forces Groups were not offered and refused.

    1. Algeria’s army decided in their civil war with the AIG to go all “oh yeah, you came into a village and killed all government sympathizers? Guess we are going to roll into one of your villages and kill everyone and everything“. Subtle they ain’t.

      1. I just watched the news. First hostage rescue I’ve seen that started with helicopter strafing runs.

  12. brought ought

    Brat aught?
    Bra taut?

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