AQIM sponsored the attack on Algeria's Amenas gas plant, which left 37 foreign workers dead. The Amenas slaughter, replete with real bullets, bombs, corpses and consequences, ought to call into doubt Obama's inaugural claim that "a decade of war is now ending." In fact, the president's claim, with which he begins his second administration, is as ludicrous as his first term's OCO prestidigitation.
The Obama administration has taken pride in its "African solutions to African problems" partnership approach to sub-Saharan African problems. Its goals are laudable: promote democracy while strengthening fragile states by emphasizing good governance and economic development. But if the administration wants to see its nascent African efforts blossom, it is going to have to continue to wage war on Africa's various al-Qaidas.
The International Institute for Counter-Terrorism recently surveyed several extremist factions associated with AQIM. They are a deadly jumble of religious anger and criminal talent, but quite capable of wreaking havoc from Algeria to Nigeria. Other al-Qaida-aligned factions plague east Africa.
Al-Qaida 2001's dark genius was to connect the Muslim world's angry, humiliated and isolated young men with a utopian fantasy preaching the virtue of violence. That utopian fantasy seeks to explain and then redress roughly 800 years of Muslim decline. That dark genius continues to empower the al-Qaidas of 2013.
Their war against the world continues. No matter what President Obama says, our war against them hasn't ended, either.
Austin Bay is the author of three novels. His third novel, The Wrong Side of Brightness, was published by Putnam/Jove in June 2003. He has also co-authored four non-fiction books, to include A Quick and Dirty Guide to War: Third Edition (with James Dunnigan, Morrow, 1996).
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