Amidst the chaos and uncertainty in the Algerian hostage crisis, information is becoming clearer. The Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal says a total of 38 foreigners, including three Americans and one Algerian were killed during the hostage taking, and five are still missing.
In an Al-Qaeda supported attempt to establish a Taliban style state in Algeria called “Sahelistan,” 38 workers were killed at a desert gas plant. Nearly all victims were foreign workers, including Americans, Japanese, and Filipinos. Of the 29 dead militants, the one that was alleged to have co-ordinated the attack, named “Chedad,” was apparently a Canadian citizen, along with one other Canadian national. Five people believed to be hostage takers were arrested after the siege.
Horror stories are beginning to emerge from the hostages that survived. Their accounts range from point blank executions, to being used as human shields against Algerian government helicopter attacks. One of the most horrific accounts is from a British woman who claims that her husband had called her to bid his final goodbye as there were explosives tied to his chest.
As some facts begin to unravel, it seems that the plot was in place for over two months. The terrorists’ plans were apparently, to seize all of the foreigners and to take them into Mali. When the military began surrounding them, they began executing the hostages. Many hostages are being recovered with bullet holes in their heads, meaning they were executed, and not casualties during the military assault.
The attack is claimed by an Algerian Al-Qaeda leader to be a reprisal for France’s attacks against their allies in Mali. The foreign policies of many countries are beginning to shift from the Middle East and Afghanistan to Africa, where it is becoming more and more evident that this is a breeding ground for radical Islam. Already, prominent Al Qaeda member Mokhtar Belmokhtar has taken responsibility for the attack. In the video where he claims responsibility, he also directly ties the incident to the bombing of the separatists in Mali, and states that if the West ends its campaign, negotiations may begin. The jihadists had apparently entered through Libya in cars painted to resemble Algerian state energy workers.
Questions now remain as to how stable many of the Arab Spring countries are and to whose allegiance they truly belong to. Libya, since the fall of Gaddafi, has become a hotbed for terrorist activity, due to its instability. But it also raises the question of whether this is due to instability, or whether these new governments, often with elements of hardline Islamists, are intentionally turning a blind eye to terrorist organizations or worse yet, supporting them.