Al Qaeda Algerian tax collecters kill for non payment

Reuters/NY Times:

A series of murders in the mountains east of Algiers this month is a demonstration of force by al Qaeda's north Africa arm to ensure danger money from local farmers keeps flowing into its coffers, residents say.

Algeria's government has said repeatedly the militants, the remnant of a far bigger Islamist insurgency in the 1990s, are on the back foot as security forces step up raids on their strongholds as close as 50 kilometers (31 miles) to the capital.

Residents of the small town of Baghlia say rebels of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb assassinated its mayor on August 6.

A few days later, they killed three soldiers and injured two in a bomb blast. Then on August 22 a former rebel was gunned down in a cafe.

Local farmers say the killings are designed to show the state still cannot protect those who refuse to pay a portion of their income to al Qaeda.

"If we pay, we become accomplices to terrorists. If we don't pay, we may end up killed," a farmer who said he stopped paying the danger money told Reuters. He refused to be identified, fearing reprisals from the security services.

There is more.

Algeria needs to do more to defeat al Qaeda operations. Besides their "tax collection" efforts, al Qaeda is also smuggling drugs from South America through their West African connections. The drugs are in transit to Europe. The group also engages in kidnapping and extortion.


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