Algeria: Current Issues
The hostage crisis that began when terrorists seized a gas compound with foreign (including U.S.) workers in southeastern Algeria on January 15, 2013, highlights the challenges the United States faces in advancing and protecting its interests in an increasingly volatile region. It may also point to the potential limits of the U.S.-Algerian security relationship. The terrorist group that seized the hostages is ostensibly a breakaway faction of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), a regional network and U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization with roots in Algeria's 1990s civil conflict. AQIM's leadership appears to be primarily based in Algeria and across the southern border in Mali, although the group's internal cohesion and ultimate aims have often been debated. AQIM attacks have ranged from bombings in Algeria to kidnappings (usually small-scale and for ransom) across the region. It is also involved in an insurgency in northern Mali that is the focus of French military operations launched on January 11, 2013.
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