Late in January, intelligence leaks cited by the media said that Al Baghdadi fled Iraq seeking a hideout in Africa.
To reassure local population, Chief of Staff and Deputy Defense Minister, Ahmed Gaid Salah visited a military base in Tamenrasset where the army is preparing to start a military exercise.
“The idea of the exercise is to repel any attempt of an enemy attack against our national borders. This exercise has been carried out with a high level of professionalism that reiterates the effectiveness of training and combat and the readiness across all units,” the defense ministry said in a statement.
The visit by Gaid Salah is also meant to send a message that the army is ready to safeguard security and stability and that the situation is in control in a country shrouded by regime opacity and uncertainty concerning the successor of ailing President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
Algeria’s south remains a no-go area for tourists given the presence of different terrorist groups including Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which has engaged in trafficking, kidnapping and ransom taking.
Terrorist groups have often acted in connivance with traffickers engaging in all sorts of smuggling from human trafficking to illegal dealings in foodstuff, oil, cigarettes and drugs.