PARIS — The April 11 terrorist bombings in Algiers brought international attention to a radical group that seemed on the verge of extinction before becoming an al-Qaida franchise late last year. But a recent spate of attacks in North Africa belies a broader threat, according to some analysts, who say the real focal point of operations is mainland Europe, where a series of deadly plots have already been interrupted. Responsibility for the twin explosions that killed 33 people was claimed by al-Qaida’s Committee in the Islamic Maghreb, which had been known as the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) […]

WASHINGTON — The claim of responsibility by a local organization with ties to al-Qaida for the recent blasts that rocked Algeria unleashed a wave of Western analysis about the extent to which Osama bin Laden’s global terrorist network is being bolstered or replaced by regional groups whose activities where not previously global in scale. Michael Scheuer, former chief of the CIA’s “bin Laden unit,” contends that while the years since Sept. 11, 2001, have inspired dozens of regional groups to align with al-Qaida’s global movement, there is simply “no evidence” the bin Laden-run mother ship is “any less capable” than […]

ALGIERS, Algeria — They are forgettable doors, windowless and pale, unfit for a city with as grand a constitution as Algiers, battered though it is. Sometimes a peephole is centered in the middle like a cyclops, maybe harboring a burly man winking behind it, but the doors are otherwise faceless, as intended. They are dotted all over the city, faithfully guarding secrets, and Nadir used to constantly point them out to me when we were out walking. “See that door?” he’d say, and my eyes would scan for a door. “That’s a bar. During the terrorism the extremists liked to […]

In the aftermath of more deadly bombings in Algeria and Morocco, many analysts are beginning to look closer at the entity that took the name “Al Qaida’s Committee in the Islamic Maghreb” in January 2007 after establishing an alliance with al-Qaida last September. Since the re-branding of the organization formerly known as the GSPC (the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat), the group’s activities have become infused with a new vigor and lethality. Now, the GSPC — an organization whose operational strength and influence had been waning since the 1990’s — has refashioned itself as an official affiliate of Bin […]

BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe — At a meeting held in a Catholic church here Saturday, dissident and Christian leaders from Zimbabwe and around Africa called for the removal of Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s 83-year-old president, and urged the country’s people to unite and fight for their rights. The prayer meeting was organized by the Save Zimbabwe Campaign, a coalition of churches, students, labor groups and opposition political parties that is fighting for democracy in Zimbabwe.In his speech at meeting at St. Patrick’sHall in Makokoba suburb, Rev. Morris Nduri, the secretary general ofMalawi┬┤s Presbyterian Church, was among those who said Zimbabweans should remove Mugabe’sgovernment […]

PORT HARCOURT, Nigeria — Nigeria’s militants will keep a close eye on the upcoming presidential election but have no plans to disrupt them, according to a commander of one of the armed groups that in recent months have stepped up attacks on foreign oil installations in the petroleum-rich Niger Delta. The leader, known as “Commander Akoko,” said in a recent interview with World Politics Review that his gunmen, who number in the thousands, are “prepared to die” in their effort to force the Nigerian government to make good on promises to use oil wealth to improve infrastructure in the impoverished […]

BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe — President Robert Mugabe and his nation’s churches are set for a fresh confrontation this weekend following an activist group’s announcement that it will go ahead with a planned prayer meeting in the city of Bulawayo, little more than a month after police violently crushed a similar meeting in Harare, leaving one person dead and arresting scores. The meeting, planned by the Save Zimbabwe Campaign, is scheduled for Saturday here in Zimbabwe’s second-largest city. The Save Zimbabwe Campaign is a coalition of churches, students, labor groups and political parties fighting for democracy in Zimbabwe. Gift Tandare, a member […]

Editor’s note: This article is adapted from a paper that first appeared in Arab Media and Society, an online journal published by the American University in Cairo’s Center for Electronic Journalism. Arab political blogging is changing and becoming more politically relevant. Arab blogs remain a very small, if rapidly growing, phenomenon — there are perhaps a few thousand political blogs across the region. Still, Internet use and blogging are growing fast, and Internet access seems nearly universal among politically mobilized youth in certain Arab countries. Even if expectations that a few courageous blogs could shatter the wall of fear sustaining […]

While the eyes of the world are on Darfur, another crisis in Sudan looms. On Jan. 9, 2005, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) between North and South Sudan ended a 23-year civil war and initiated a six-year interim period of peace. With less than four years remaining in that period, the prospect of a sustainable peace is fading. True leadership is urgently needed to build the trust required to create a shared political future for the country. It is positive that the word “peaceful” can still be used to describe North-South relations. Their battles have moved from the fields to […]

LAGOS, Nigeria — Will Nigerians experience their first democratic transition of power since the end of colonial rule, or will corruption and disarray prevent the country’s fragile democracy from continuing another four years? It’s the question on everybody’s mind in the weeks ahead of the April 14 vote for president in the oil-rich, but troubled, West African nation. A week after the vote for president, legislative and local elections are scheduled to take place. After gaining independence from Britain in 1960, leader after leader in Nigeria has had his authority usurped by military coups. Though there have been fleeting periods […]