Middle East historian Knut S. Vikør talked to TV2 about the hostage case against the Statoil gas plant in Algeria. According to Vikør, the ongoing attack on gas plant in Algeria has roots in many previous conflicts.
– It is all rooted in the civil war in Mali the past year, the civil war in Algeria in the 1990s and the war in Libya last year. But it is also more related to the demands of those who live in the desert region of the Sahara for greater autonomy, says Vikør.
A radical Militant Organisation
The gorup who has undertaken the responsibility for the attack call themselves «The masked brigade», and is residues of radical goups from the war in Algeria in the 1990s.
The leader of the group that has taken hostages at the gas plant, Mokhtar Belmokhtar has previously been behind several hostage cases, and is known to use Western hostages to fund the operations of his organization. And according to local media, “The masked brigade” so far has received 600 Million NOK in ransom.
But Vikør thinks this hostage case is a bit unusual. He says that they have not had any such hostage situations in the Sahara region. Ususally the hostage cases in the region affect the tourists who are abducted and often held for a long time to get ransom.
– This is a siege of a gas plant. In the 1990s, the conflicts were extremely bloody, but gas pipelines or platforms were completely shielded. So this is a new situtaion, says Vikør.