Algeria's Disastrous Anti-Terror Failure Raises Questions About Leadership

As the dust settles on the Algeria's Amenas hostage taking tragedy, some Algerians are raising obvious questions about the efficacy and reliability of their Military Intelligence agency (DRS). 

If the Algerian Army (ANP) did a good job in eradicating the terrorist group who took over the Gaz complex that is located at Tigantourine,  at the expense of more than thirty foreign and Algerian hostages who died during the raid, the intelligence failure of Algeria's Military Intelligence agency "DRS" and the breakdown in Algeria's diplomatic communications with World Capital are indications of the collapse of the ANP and DRS’s old guard anti-terror strategy. 


Would the In-Amenas attack bring about a change at the DRS and the ANP opening up the leadership field to young energetic officers who are more attuned to  the recent changes in regional geopolitical realities?


The Algerians have been solidly behind the ANP’s harsh response to the terror attack. However, some public criticism is emerging. Algerians are asking: How could thirty heavily armed terrorists cross the Algerian-Libyan border without being detected by border guards from the two countries? Where were Algerian security forces while the terrorists drove with multitudes of sophisticated weapons from the Libyan borders to the site of the attack? But the most  disturbing question remains: how did Belmokhtar group bypassed security checks and drove 10 km from the first Police checkpoint to the gas refinery in eastern Algeria ? As the Algerians ponder these questions,  some are hoping to see  a new young leadership emerges at the helm of the Algerian security and armed forces.


The attackers’ ability to overrun the remote desert facility with ease and efficiency is a flagrant failure of the DRS intelligence units. The “embarrassing” and contradictory comments by Algerian Prime Minister and his Interior Minister made the Algerian “civilian” government look like a lackey of the DRS and the ANP leadership reinforcing the image of a “secret” military council governing Algeria.


While World leaders justified Algeria’s decision to go alone in its counterattack to free the hostages on Algeria’s bloody history fighting terrorism, young Algerian do realize that the world has changed since the “black years” of the civil war. Today’s terror groups  are multinationals, Belmokhar group had six nationalities, requiring an international response. Algeria’ fear of foreign assistance is hampering anti-terror efforts in the Sahel, North African and the Sahara. In fact “contemporary” terror organizations are exploiting Algiers “old fashion” anti-terror approach to thrive in the Sahel. If Washington, Paris and Rabat welcome assistance in their fight against terrorism, why wouldn’t Algeria?


Asking for Foreign military and intelligence assistance in fighting terrorism  is neither unpatriotic nor a sign of weakness. The concept of a true international anti-terror approach  seems to be lost on the DRS old guard “fraternity” who has been in power since 1965.  

For experts on Algerian affairs, the In Amenas operation, will not bring much of a transformation to the military institutions in Algeria. Yet, these events may push some elements within the DRS and ANP to take matter into their own hands forcing a change that would benefit Algeria, the Sahel and Sahara.