Both from NyTimes.
- A particularly grisly garbage can-hidden bomb attack in Somalia.
- A story on al-Qaeda in the Maghreb. How an anti-government Islamist insurgency in Algeria became part of a trans-national jihadist movement because of Iraq.
Then the leader of the group, a university mathematics graduate named Abdelmalek Droukdal, sent a secret message to Iraq in the fall of 2004. The recipient was Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, and the two men on opposite ends of the Arab world engaged in what one firsthand observer describes as a corporate merger.
Today, as Islamist violence wanes in some parts of the world, the Algerian militants — renamed Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb — have grown into one of the most potent Osama bin Laden affiliates, reinvigorated with fresh recruits and a zeal for Western targets.
Maghreb is the traditional Arabic name for North-Western Africa (Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, etc.). Algeria recall in the 90s was the site of a horrific level of violence after an Islamist political party won open elections but was barred by the military from coming to power. They then turned to violence (since the political process was closed off to them) and began a blood-soaked civil war. The government went so far as to infiltrate the insurgency and help plan and execute attacks on civilians which were then (plausibly) blamed on the insurgents. This eroded support for the insurgency which is where they were up until Iraq and Zarqawi’s franchising of al-Qaeda in Iraq revived their fortunes.
On Somalia watch this God-awful documentary about the West’s backing of corrupt dictators (via Ethiopia):