In December 1991, the Algerian government—the military regime in power since the French were expelled—gave in to public pressure, which had already turned sanguinary, and allowed an election. It was quite clear that the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS), a fundamentalist party, would emerge victorious. To forestall the institution of a theocracy, in January 1992, the military launched a coup and shut down the final rounds of the election. A civil war erupted in which the jihadists sought to overpower the secular, if dictatorial, government. By the late 1990s, the jihadists’ savagery had meant their campaign had run aground; the vital centre in Algeria swallowed its misgivings and sought shelter behind the State. By 2002, the civil war was declared over: the jihadist revolt had been beaten.
That is the official story.
On February 3, 2014, Tanzim Qaedat al-Jihad (The Base of Holy War Organisation)—al-Qaeda—disowned ad-Dawla al-Islamiya fil-Iraq wa-Sham (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, ISIS), finally resolving the tortured question of the group’s “affiliation” with the terror network. Continue reading