April 11th anniversary passes quietly in Algeria
By Said Jameh for Magharebia in Algiers – 14/04/08
April 11th came and went without incident in Algeria, contrary to expectations, allowing the families of the victims of last year's suicide bombings against the Government Palace and a police station to reflect on their losses in peace.
Algerian officials stood beside the victims' families in marking the anniversary, remembering the horrific acts and emphasising Algerians' rejection of violence.
Prime Minister Abdelaziz Belkhadem, Interior Minister Noureddine Yazid Zerhouni and other state officials gathered with victims' families and friends Saturday to lay flower wreaths and read the fatiha in honour of the dead.
Following the tribute to the victims, Prime Minister Abdelaziz Belkhadem declined to speak further about the anniversary. When asked about a recent assassination plot against him that was thwarted by Algerian security forces, Belkhadem merely said, "Lives are in God's hands."
Leading up to the April 11th anniversary, Algerian newspapers focused not on citizens' fears but rather on comprehensive reports of last year's attacks, analyses of armed conflicts in Algeria and positive assessments of the country's future.
Newspapers questioned the viability of al-Qaeda in the country, since it has rejected all offers of amnesty and calls to lay down arms issued by the government. The terrorist organisation has suffered a number of setbacks at the hands of the Algerian army, including the killing of several leaders known for their extreme ideological positions and rejection of reconciliation.
Despite a series of victories, security personnel remained vigilant on the first anniversary of the attacks which rocked the symbol of Algerian power. Intensified security measures were evident in the capital and surrounding provinces.
In its April 12th issue, El Watan reported that security authorities had obtained information from a repentant terrorist who said preparations were under way for new suicide operations from April 3rd to April 9th. However, heightened security measures prevented the terrorist organisation from moving a car bomb into the capital.
El Watan also indicated that the government had moved some 5,000 police officers from different provinces to boost security presence in the streets of the capital, raising the number on patrol to an estimated 12,000 men.
According to Liberte, a recent campaign of wanted posters featuring portraits of known and suspected terrorists led to the surrender of several terrorists, also contributing to overall security.
Political science professor and security analyst Ahmed Ademi said the anniversary presents an opportunity for in-depth consideration of strategies to confront terrorism.
In an interview with Al Belad in its April 12th issue, Professor Ademi said the strategy for confronting terrorism is based on three pivots: schools and education, the role played by the mosque in combating takfirist doctrine and the military's crackdown against terrorist strongholds.
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