'We Will Kill Them'
"An important number of hostages were freed and an important number of terrorists were eliminated, and we regret the few dead and wounded."Algeria is fiercely independent. They felt competently assured enough to manage their response to the oil field attack on their own. They brook no interference in their internal politics, the manner in which they manage their affairs. A former colony of France, their relationship to their former colonialist master is not what one might consider to be gratitude expressed through an exchange of courteous diplomacy.
Algerian Communications Minister Mohand Said Oubelaid
Former French colonies do not take pride in their heritage as former French colonies. Quite unlike, in point of fact, Commonwealth countries which take pride in their current association with Great Britain. Britain was a great nation of imperialist imagination, seafarers of distinction, and colonists of note - even if those Commonwealth countries resent their former status, benefiting later from the adoption of British-style administration and justice.
Algerian soil has been undisturbed of late by terrorist activities. Because of the country's unalloyed and brutal response to attacks, Islamists were giving it wide berth, attacking elsewhere, where less fiercely determined or capable responses to their incursions made it more worthwhile for them. But because of Algeria's proximity to Mali it proved irresistible to the Islamists to strike close to the border.
Algeria is a no-nonsense nation when it comes to political unrest and social instability. Unlike Tunisia and Egypt, Algeria's Arab Spring had no real opportunity to surface as a living threat; the threat was summarily dispatched. Algerians had no wish to revisit the brutality of the 1990s civil war. Islamists in Algeria are viewed as violent, and haven't popular support. The country's oil money buys it's administration loyalty.
But Algeria is no Iran, and has no wish to become another Iran. Unlike Iran's repression of its Green opposition, it recognizes the weak position of its Islamist parties. It is invested in demonstrating to foreign investors that their trust in the security of the country is not misplaced. And the country's oil reserves are exploited to the benefit of both the country whose natural resources it represents, and its industry investors.
Security at oil installations is likely to come under review after militants kidnapped workers at a remote natural-gas complex and after Algeria's military launched a raid to free the hostages. Dow Jones's James Herron looks at how this might change the oil industry. Photo: Getty Images
Those who had suicide belts with Sentex explosives fitted on themselves, and who were placed in SUVs to be driven away from the station in a convoy once it was surrounded and being bombed by Algerian forces were the unfortunate ones. The Algerian military bombed the SUVs attempting to move the hostages. The vehicles were destroyed, the hostages within as well.
The Islamists from the Masked Brigade based in Mali, and offshoots of al-Qaeda, seemed to be winging it, their intention to inflict damage on Western interests, to hold Western hostages for ransom or for trade for others of their ilk held in the West. Their first intention was to convince the Algerians to withdraw and allow them to pass back into Mali with a handful of hostages.
"We are receiving care and good treatment from the kidnappers. The army did not withdraw and they are firing at the camp. We say to everybody that negotiation is a sign of strength and will spare many a loss of life", pleaded one Brit, speaking under duress. The Algerians weren't listening, this was not their game plan; extinguishing the threat in its entirety was more to the point for them; if there were casualties, that was unavoidable.
"Algerians were firing from helicopters at anything that moved", reported American broadcaster CBS. "Their 4 X 4 trucks were hit first, and then gunfire was turned on people in the complex", recounted an Algerian diplomat. Once the assault against the Islamists began, according to French government sources, hostages were being killed "in an appalling fashion".
One of the locals who managed to escape the firestorm and the carnage said the Islamists had separated the captives into groups. Muslims would not be harmed, but "Christians and infidels" were destined to die. "We will kill them." And so they did, though it's not yet known how many in total.
And in Mali, the French assault against the Islamists continues, and will continue until the AQIM groups have been vanquished so they are no longer a danger to that vast geography and beyond.
Pure wishful thinking. They will crawl back into their hidey-holes, and then creep back out when the time is right.