Islamist militant leader Mokhtar Belmokhtar. (AFP/Getty)
A breach of the security at gas and oil installations was the Algerian regime’s nightmare back in the 1990s, when the country was wracked by an Islamist insurgency.
Under intense financial pressure at the time, and desperate to attract foreign investment into its energy sector, installations in the southern part of the country were heavily guarded exclusion zones that seemed a world apart from the heavily populated north.
There are two Algerias, people would say at the time, one soaked in blood, the other peaceful and bursting with oil and gas. Read more
It was always my impression that spies generally try to keep out of the papers, and out of the law courts. Judged by those standards, MI6 is not doing a very good job – and neither is the CIA. Read more
By Gideon Rachman
What is worse? Locking somebody up for years, without trial, while you try to find proof he is a terrorist? Or killing somebody whose name you don’t even know because his pattern of behaviour suggests to you that he is a terrorist? The first strategy, internment without trial at the Guantánamo Bay prison camp, was a signature policy of the George W. Bush administration. The use of drone strikes to kill suspected terrorists has become a trademark of the Obama administration. Yet while Guantánamo attracted worldwide condemnation, the use of drones is much less discussed.
Perhaps predictably, Imran Khan’s protest march against US drone strikes was stopped before the marchers could make it into the tribal areas of Pakistan. Khan is a politician and so not averse to a bit of free publicity. He has also been accused of being soft on the Pakistani Taliban. Nonetheless, the issues that he and others are raising about the drone strikes are very important.
The allegations involve the death of hundreds of innocent civilians. If these charges are true, they strike me as much more serious than – for example – the detention without trial of terrorist suspects in Guantanamo, which became such a cause célèbre, during the Bush presidency. Read more
Mitt Romney makes remarks on the attack on the US consulate in Libya (Reuters)
There are moments that can indelibly brand a politician and Mitt Romney may just have met his.
The alacrity – and brittle certainty – with which the Republican nominee responded to the violence against US diplomats on Tuesday night offers a snapshot of why his candidacy has failed to attract true believers. On Wednesday morning, Hillary Clinton read out a sombre statement condemning the killing of Chris Stevens, the US ambassador to Libya, and three other Americans. Forty minutes later, Barack Obama followed suit. Both focused on Mr Stevens’ tragic death. Read more
Yesterday the FT opinion desk was offered a piece from a prominent French commentator, attacking President Sarkozy for having helped to create a climate of intolerance in France. A decision was made not to run it, on the grounds that we didn’t yet know who was responsible for the killings in Toulouse and Montauban. It was not yet clear that this was the work of right-wing extremists.
The rush to judgement was not confined to the French left. Also yesterday I heard a strange piece on the BBC’s “Today” programme (compulsory listening for the British middle-classes), where once again the premise of the discussion was that the killer of the French soldiers and the Jewish school-children was likely to be a right-wing extremist. This also struck me as very premature.
And so it seems. As I write the French police are surrounding the house of the chief suspect, who appears to have been an al-Qaeda member or sympathiser. Read more
A Russian Channel One undated television grab shows a man identified as Adam Osmayev, one of the suspected militants alleged to have conspired to kill Russian PM Vladimir Putin. Photo AFP/Getty
If you’re planning to bump off a world leader, then doing so in the middle of an election campaign is a good guarantee of maximum impact. But in Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s case, assassination “plots” seem to crop up so regularly around election time there is reason to be suspicious. Read more
Anwar al-Awlaki was killed in an air raid in Yemen, the US confirmed on Friday. He was regarded by western intelligence agencies as the most dangerous figure in the global al-Qaeda network. But what else do we know about the US-born cleric?
Q: Who was Anwar al-Awlaki?
Al-Awlaki, a US citizen and son of a former high-ranking Yemeni official, was a radical cleric and advocate of “Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula,” based in Yemen. The Yemeni offshoot of the global terrorist movement has carried out several innovative attacks aimed at the US. Notorious examples include the shipping of explosives hidden in printer cartridges, and the attempt to kill a Saudi official with explosive powder lodged in an attacker’s body cavity. Read more
American business and political leaders reflect on the 9/11 terror attacks and how they changed the US and the world.
The legacy of 9/11
We devote this week’s show to the aftermath of the terrorist attack on the United States and the decade that has followed. We talk to the editor of the Financial Times, Lionel Barber, about his memories of the time and we hear from FT correspondent Matthew Green about life on the Afghan-Pakistan border, in 2011. Read more