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Today in Terrorism

Bomb blast in Algeria (June 22, 1995)

On this day in 1995, the GIA set off a car bomb in the northeastern Algerian city of Constantine, wounding 16 including 5 children.

We get fearful when a terrorist attack takes place on any given day: imagine a DECADE of terrorist attacks.

CONSTANTINE, AGLERIA — When we see that a terrorist attack has taken place we tend to perk up our ears. When a given place is beset by multiple terrorist attacks in a short span of time it is a big deal. We in Canada saw two attacks over a 48-hour period back in 2014, although only the second one (an attack on the National Cenotaph and Parliament Hill) really got our attention.

Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, slain Ottawa shooter, had criminal record in ...
Michael Zehaf-Bibeau

So what would people do with a ten-year period of attacks? That was Algeria in the 1990s. After an outwardly Islamist party – the Front Islamique du Salut or Islamic Salvation Front – won national elections in 1992 the army staged a coup and took over. The ensuing civil war led to the deaths of more than 200,000 Algerians, and 15,000 ‘disparus’ (disappeared).

One of the groups that arose at this time was the Groupe Islamique Arme (GIA – Armed Islamic Group) which was a brutal terrorist organisation. For instance, in 1996 they kidnapped seven French monks whose heads were later found – they’re bodies were not attached to them.

On this day in 1995 the GIA set off a car bomb in the eastern Algerian city of Constantine. 16 people were wounded, including five children. A building housing police officers appeared to be the target.

In many ways the ‘decade of death’ was the equivalent of an own-goal in sports. The Algerian military did not have to throw out the results of a democratic election and install a puppet government. Even if the winning party was not to their liking they did not have to annul what was, in effect, the will of the people. 200,000+ deaths is what they got in return.

By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. and Director of the National Security programme at the University of Ottawa’s Professional Development Institute (PDI). Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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