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The hostage-taking in Algeria


The magnitude of this hostage situation reminds me of the one carried out by 50 Chechen jihadists at the Doubrovka theatre in Moscow on October 23rd 2002 during the Nord-Ost musical. They succeeded, in the center of Moscow to capture and retain hostage for 3 days all of the 850 spectators. Terrorist women wearing explosive belts were spread out in the theatre, threatening to bring down the theatre roof, made of concrete plates, on top of the spectators if an assault was launched.

This hostage taking had the whole world holding its breath from the 23rd to the 26th of October. On October 25th, Putin even promised to grant them their lives if they let the hostages go.
Despite this effort, it ended tragically when at daybreak on the 26th the Russian Special Forces launched an assault after having introduced paralyzing gas into the building. The toll was heavy. 39 terrorists were killed, and over 100 hostages succumbed after inhaling the gas. The terrorists only directly killed 2.

The negotiations that began with the terrorists on the evening of the 23rd allowed 17 people to be let free on the morning of the 24th followed by a woman and two children in the afternoon. On the 25th 11 people and 8 children were set free. This was partly negotiated by private parties in exchange for ransoms handed over to accomplices on the outside.

We are probably going to face a similar scenario.

Some countries that aren’t directly involved in the Malian conflict will attempt to negotiate for their nationals to be set free by paying ransoms, but in the end the Algerian Special Forces will launch an attack probably Saturday or Sunday at the latest.

Indeed it is difficult to imagine Algeria sending the AQIM a signal other than firmness. The terrorists who launched into this hostage taking know it: they cannot get out of this adventure alive without denying their beliefs.

General (2S) Jean-Bernard PINATEL