As Muslims from across the globe flock to Syria and Iraq to join Islamic State, very few Algerians have tried to join the fight. Dalia Ghanem-Yazbeck attributes this to the prevalence of a quietist school of Islamic fundamentalism, the country’s large, highly coordinated, and sometimes draconian security forces, and the traumatic effect of recent Algerian history:
A key reason for the seemingly low appeal of jihadism among Algerians is the experience of the country’s civil war, which raged throughout the 1990s. That period, known as the “black decade”—during which 150,000 people died and 7,000 disappeared—resulted in a mass trauma that is still evident in Algerians’ yearning for order and stability, which the authorities fuel in order to justify their tough security stance. . . .
But Ghanem-Yazbeck also cautions that things might change:
[E]conomic, social, and political problems persist in Algeria. . . . On the political front, there has been a lack, if not a complete absence, of generational renewal, allowing the same apparatchiks to remain in power since even before Algeria’s independence in 1962. Their authoritarianism . . . prevented the emergence of a real opposition and led to a civil society that is plagued by anomie.
Algeria’s socioeconomic problems include high unemployment, . . . a housing shortage, . . . and abysmal wage levels and living conditions, which prompted over 9,000 riots in 2010. All this might lead the youth toward jihadist movements as a means to express their resentment and retaliation. And, with Algeria’s domestic jihadist scene still active, there is already a framework in place to host disaffected young people.