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The Use of Counter-Terrorism Attacks During the Algerian War of Independence From F.L.N. Essay

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Updated: Dec 7th, 2021

Algeria is one of the countries that was engaged in war in order to gain its independence from France.It is important to take into account that other possible means of gaining freedom had been exploited but bore no fruits.These included, the diplomatic measures had been considered prior to this option. In his preview of the Algerian decolonization Milrud Barkaoui argued that the French government had promised to grant independence but had no definite plan that could be trusted.( connelly 2005:34) This implied that,it was a mere talk to try and could down the international pressure, that had mounted allover the world to end imperialism. The Algerians had been influenced by the political events in the U.S, especially after president Nixon took over power. Their patience had worn out but the French still maintained their troops in large numbers.

Matthew Connelly, in his works of a diplomatic revolution; Algeria’s fight for independence and origins of post-cold war, clearly gave a preview of the events of the war. He outlined the importance of this colony to France.This included the fact that it was incorporated directly to French second republic in 1848.(2005:10) That led to the deployment of a large number of troops to check any form of resistance.The most important event however was, the testing of the atomic bombing on the hinterland. This argument however, did not underscore the importance of the presence of the settlers in Algeria. Their presence had a great impact on the colony than the French government could have imagined.

The Algerians were not contended with the presence of the French settlers. They interpreted that the troops were being used to protect the settlers’ interests. It can still be argued that settler presence, curtailed the freedom of the original inhabitants. This created animosity amongst the Algerians. They seemed to be foreigners on their own land, through the limits created on their speech, movement, trade and land. It is also apparent that religion played an important role in igniting the Muslim community against the perceived enemy in all aspects of their daily life. Connelly, further gave the general myths surrounding the fight for independence. According to him FNL were French initials referring to the Algerian national liberation front to which the French regarded as criminals because of their fight against colonialism (2005:67). However to the Algerians’ they were regarded as heroes, who labored to victory.

It is argued that the military tried in vain to counter insurgence through political goodwill but failed.They faced resistance from the settlers who were against them being treated as equals with the rest of the population.The troops on the other hand were not happy with the politicians plundering their economic gains. Matters worsened when the troops overthrew the colonial political regime and assumed all the rights that were enjoyed by the settlers. This weakened the stability of the French occupation culminating to further weakening of their power against the Algerians. Another myth depicted how the use of torture by the French troops to acquire information from the captured insurgents flared up anger against the colonialist. The French were considered a powerful country worldwide. They enjoyed the sovereignty of their state until great challenges came into fore. Such included the improvement of communication technology.which enabled the Algerians to get updates of the events allover the world. i.e. the independence of India and Ghana.it is these activities encouraged them to fight for their freedom.The French allies such as the US were against, imperialism and colonization and demanded that they pulls out of their colonies. That enlisted that the insurgents support of such sentiments.France also lacked the primary viability, economically and politically. The existence of the cold war, made the east block to support the insurgents through the communists pan Arab and pan-islamists.Further, it was clear that the French lacked the support they expected from the west. This was occasioned by the fact that Algeria was a member of the NATO. These kind political contradictions worked against them.

It is evident that FNL was as a result of the social upraising against the French.In their organization they opted to have a different approach in facing the French troops. This was interpreted to mean that they understood the fact that the French were well equipped with modern military equipment. They opted not to face them by open confrontation but resorted to underground measures, such as propaganda and terror to radicalize the population (James2001:286). This was to avoid collaboration and compromise from their members of the Muslim population. The FLN wanted to have a world wide approach towards the war. Its proponents lived abroad and gave the world all the reasons to believe that they were to be assisted in their quest for independence. They sought the ideological approach so as to attract international sympathy.

However, this was not to mean that they required sympathy, after all allover the world the mood was against imperialism and its forms such as colonialism. All other countries were engaged in the fight against colonialism. Connelly’s arguments tend to refer to the Algerian quest for independence as unjustified war that could have been avoided. It is quite clear that this was a tactic that managed to out do the military conquest of the third world. It pointed out the ability of the Algerians to develop skills that were unexpected to the perceived mighty French troops. This was a good example of the determination of the oppressed to regain their freedom after denial through the diplomacy.

The Algerian revolution began in 1954. It ended with the French president declaring Algeria’s independence on July 3.It consisted of various groups assembling using different tactics to fight against the oppressive regime of colonialism. Several factors contributed to the uprising of the insurgence, ranging from political, economical and social. It is clear that Algeria like any other colonized nation was against the occupation of their land they had hoped that the French would yield to their demands and be treated with respect..Proponents of this movement were the scholars from France, who had been enlightened on the benefits of freedom. It was well founded and wide spread.At the initial stages it begun as a political movement such as the founder movement. The star of the North Africa(Shepard 2006:249). This was formed to foster political coordination and fight for the rights of the Muslims: materially, morally and socially.Despite their determination , the French government resisted any such attempts.

The Algerians then opted to establish groups that would articulate their issues at the political scene both internally and abroad. That worsened matters for them as the French resorted to fight back using oppressive means such as arrests and banning of Islamic preaching.This led to the gaining of popularity by the Islamic groups.That culminated to religious unrest. The Islamic movements then decided to form secret political groups which grew in numbers. The social unrest was further fueled by poor wheat harvest, lack of employment and shortage of manufactured goodsThe Nationalists then resorted to protests, through the streets but met resistance from the police.The actions of the colonial government sparked violence throughout the country. Several settlers were attacked and killed. The army and the police responded by putting up strong retaliation, they attacked the Algerians by use of war planes and killed about 45000 people. That was a counter approach system in a bid to restore order in the colonial state. This was the first tactic that was used to counter military uprisings in the Algerian colony. The colonial government used excessive force as a means of instilling fear among its citizens. It was also a clear way of sending a signal that the French government was not ready to tolerate any kind battle challenges. After the failure of the political demonstrations through the legal channels, the F.N.L resorted to form a counter terrorist group to resist the terrorism of the French colonial government.

The groups mission was to conduct terrorist activities to the colonial government of the day. Their activities were: unprecedented murder of the settlers and attacks on government security apparatus..In the political arena the colonial government opted to instill terror to the democratic rights enjoyed by the Algerians. The measures put in place included the manipulation of municipal elections through fraud, intimidation and rigging. These send a clear message to the Algerians that independence through democracy was still elusive. The police further banned the political organizations that had been established. That action was interpreted by the Algerian as a terrorism geared towards silencing them. They reacted by forming another group led by historical chiefs regarded as leaders of the Algerian war of independence. It was this group that was later renamed as Algerian national liberation front popularly known as (front de liberation nation ale-FNL)(whittaker:2001:151) Its sole mandate was to conduct the war for independence.

Since the Algerians had lost several people through the military terror that rocked the whole of their country, the leaders of this movement sought to retaliate at the unexpected time. They attacked the settler community, forcing them to give up their grip on the land and move back to Algeria’s.The colonial government, responded swiftly by launching attacks on any suspected FNL members. It led to several Arab killings the whole of Algeria. The FNL members countered those.activities through, massacre of civilians. They aimed at any military and government unit. The government still responded with other terrorist attack on the FNL group, killing about1200 Muslims, that dealt a big blow to the war of liberation in Algeria. It was clear to the leadership that the colonial regime was determined to suppress them, by all possible means. They thought of through dreaded terrorist activities. It became apparent to them that the leadership had to think of a better plan to handle the complex situation. Public outcry by the international communitywas not able to save them from the brutal colonial regime. That led to the meeting of two groups of liberations. The political and military wings were joined to form one policy making body which was regarded as a formidable force to counter the terrorist activities of the colony (Rachid1986:15).

Those developments led toestablishment of the hit and run tactics by the new group. Collaborators of the colony were the main targets with their bodies being mutilated. That was thought was interpreted by the colonial regime as ritual killings. The people on the countryside were also engaged in carrying out of such killings. The events taking place were not brought to attention of the world, since France had claimed that Algeria was part of its sovereign state. In fact they justified their terrorist activities by claiming that they were dealing with internal criminal matters. That made the FNL to develop a different approach so to draw external attention. They launched attacks on cities and held several demonstrations. One of these events, was the general strike of 1957, which coincided with the UN debate on Algeria.The army general at the site was instructed to use whatever means to restore order in the cities.General Jacques Massu used paratroopers to destroy and suppress the FNL supporters including their infrastructure. That led to mass response to the FNL activities even from urban Arabs. These kind of French terrorist activities against Algerians casted doubt on their presence in Algeria. Their credibility as country that respects the rule of law worldwide was jeopardized. The French government refused to give up and resorted to a massive recruitment of military personnel. They then closed all the borders and developed a new tact of mobile forces, popularly known for search and destroy missions, there was even the construction of a long stretch electric fence along the Tunisian border so as to confine the Algerians within the manageable units and propagate terror in them without escape routes.

Later the French government formed an electoral body.Several people were registered as voters. In the later discussions a cease-fire was struck. Elections were carried out and the Algerians were granted their independence on July 3 by De Gaulle.

It is important to note that the counter terrorist activities played a vital role in the decolonization of Algeria.

The murdering of the settlers as retaliation to the French troops activities had a significant economic impact. This meant that the economic viability of Algeria was drastically affected, since there was none to carry out farming and other economic activities. This destabilized the economy of the colony. It also became clear that funds that could have been used in more economical viable projects were diverted to try and deal with the war that had just spread out. That impacted negatively on the economy back in France. The government was engaged in the funding of a very expensive war that seemed to require more funds as time progressed. That slowed down the economic growth of France.In a nut shell the Algerian war of independence negatively impacted on the economies of both Algeria and France. The granting of independence to the Algerians by the French made them to be the largest economic partner to boost the growth of the new nation.

On the political front the war was a blessing to the Algerians, this is because they got their hard fought for independence. The war also played a bigger role in ensuring that the international community was involved in urging the French country to be more responsive to the demands of their colonies not only in Algeria but even it other parts of the world. The international community through organizations such as UN and the NATO played a vital role in ensuring that France as one of their members was compelled to be more responsible for their activities in their colony. US also played a significant role in ensuring the end of imperialism in the world. Such forces forced France to grant Algeria its independence. The political activities back at home also forced the government to grant independence. The French nationals were tired of the killings and torture there fellow citizens, who had moved to Algeria as settlers. This forced them to demand to a quick fix to the problems facing their nationals.

On the social front it was clear that the war had a negative impact to both the colonizer and the colonized. The Algerians used religion to implore their countrymen to fight the French. That polarized the society between Muslim and other religions more notably Christianity of the French. That in fact can be attributed to the animosity that still exists to date between members of these two religions. The war also led to racist ideologies that were propagated between the Arab and the white. The Arab felt that the imperialistic activities of the French were totally unfounded and were meant to subdue other races. That encouraged the growth of negative sentiments among the two races.However the most important aspect of the result of the war, was the independence. That has led to the made Algerians to value their independence hence promoting patriotism. It also led to the alignment of Algeria to the Arab world hence joining the Arab League of Nations. To the world generally, this war had a significant impact: several nations that were colonies at that time followed suit in quest for their independence such as Zimbabwe. These kind of guerrilla tactics were used by other nations in their fight for their independence. The same tactics are also being used by the terrorists in the contemporary society.


James (2001) uncivil war: intellectuals and identity politics during the decolonization of Algeria.Nebraska: university of Nebraska press p286.

Shepard T (2006) the invention of decolonization; the Algerian war and the remarking of france.london: Cromwell university press p249.

Whittaker d (2001) The terrorism reader3 edition. U.K route ledge press.p151.

Rachi T (1986) State and Revolution in Algeria. London.zed books p53.

Matthew c (2005) A Diplomatic revolution: Algeria’s fight for independence and origin of the post cold war era. London: O.U.P P10.

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