X

Create an account to continue reading.

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles
For unlimited access to The Spectator, subscribe below

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles

Sign in to continue

Already have an account?

What's my subscriber number?

Subscribe now from £1 a week

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
 
View subscription offers

Already a subscriber?

or

Subscribe now for unlimited access

ALL FROM JUST £1 A WEEK

View subscription offers

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Login

Don't have an account? Sign up
X

Subscription expired

Your subscription has expired. Please go to My Account to renew it or view subscription offers.

X

Forgot Password

Please check your email

If the email address you entered is associated with a web account on our system, you will receive an email from us with instructions for resetting your password.

If you don't receive this email, please check your junk mail folder.

X

It's time to subscribe.

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access – from just £1 a week

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
X

Sign up

What's my subscriber number? Already have an account?

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Your subscriber number is the 8 digit number printed above your name on the address sheet sent with your magazine each week.

Entering your subscriber number will enable full access to all magazine articles on the site.

If you cannot find your subscriber number then please contact us on customerhelp@subscriptions.spectator.co.uk or call 0330 333 0050.

You can create an account in the meantime and link your subscription at a later time. Simply visit the My Account page, enter your subscriber number in the relevant field and click 'submit changes'.

Blogs

There is nothing new about Islamism in Africa

22 January 2013

1:12 PM

22 January 2013

1:12 PM

The Algerian hostage crisis is over and the Prime Minister has warned that the focus of the al-Qaeda’s franchise has shifted westwards. In his statement on the situation, he was channelling Tony Blair, which at least makes a change from channelling the Foreign Office. But the initial reaction from Downing Street was deeply unimpressive. The BBC’s Nick Robinson quoted a nameless, sneering voice, apparently exasperated at the Algerian response to the crisis. It would be interesting to know whether this patronising individual had ever spent any time working outside SW1 or had any idea that the Algerian people have lived on the frontline of the struggle with violent Islamists for more than 20 years. Still more disheartening was to hear William Hague speaking on the BBC Today programme in classic colonial ‘spheres of influence’ terms about North Africa being a largely French concern.

Nick Robinson wrote a good blog on Mali and Algeria a few days ago, which concluded: ‘I suspect we are all going to have to learn a great deal more about these places, what’s happening in them and what our government might have in mind for them.’ Some might argue that this learning process should have started a little while ago.

[Alt-Text]


The historical amnesia of the political class is a wonder to behold. There is nothing new about al-Qaeda activity in Africa. Indeed, the organisation first came to international prominence after the bombing of the US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998. The idea that terrorist activity in the Maghreb  is a new phenomenon is also deeply insulting to those who lived through the decade-long civil war in Algeria (and the tens of thousands who died). And have we so quickly forgotten the Casablanca bombings of 2003 against largely Jewish targets that left 45 people dead?

When I was living in Paris in the early 1990s, Algerian dissidents, caught between a murderous regime and an Islamist insurgency, told me of their concerns about the wave of ‘Afghan Arabs’ who had returned to their country after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989 intoxicated by violent jihad. These dissidents told me that their problem would soon become the world’s problem and they were absolutely right.

The British government didn’t listen when the French warned them of the dangers posed by Algerian Islamists seeking refuge in the UK in the 1990s. When the authorities finally caught up with what was happening a decade later, the danger had moved elsewhere. I still remember the senior officer who spoke to me with utter conviction on July 7th 2005, immediately after the suicide bombers hit London. ‘It’ll be the Algerians, no question,’ he said.

Give something clever this Christmas – a year’s subscription to The Spectator for just £75. And we’ll give you a free bottle of champagne. Click here.


Show comments
Close