What are the US special forces -- the Green Berets -- doing in the Sahara desert? Since the end of World War Two, US soldiers have never set foot in Algeria, so why now?
But now, a crack Special Forces team is sharing their mutual knowledge and experiences in combatting extremist-terrorism in desert regions with the very experienced Algerian military. See video clip here
The Green Berets and Algerian crack forces also are training in using advanced technology and having great fun at the same time: the soldiers have tkr entire Sahara desert to play in with joint practice runs with the Raven - a nifty, tiny remote control monitoring helicopter -- to help combat the growing terrorist threat in Algeria and neighbouring desert-countries..
So besides all these big tough boys playing with some wonderful new toys, what are they doing there? The Pentagon believes that this desolate desert might well become the next Afghanistan - although of course its civilian critics in the US insist that there is no terrorist threat in the Sahara desert at all.
However the Algerian special forces know exactly what is going on in their own country, and they say that there is a a growing terrorist threat: Algerian nationals have been found fighting in the ranks of terrorist groupings, and there also is growing support throughout the Saharan region for recently captured local sheik Amari Sahiti, who took 23 European hostages, collected $6mil in ransom, assassinated two Algerian diplomats -- and was relentlessly pursued by the Algerian special forces teams right across four Saharan-Sahel desert countries, who finally captured him in Chad.
The US Army's Special Forces twelve member-Green-Beret A team are very keen to learn from the Algerians' success. They now are in Algeria for two months, setting up new lines of communication to help the Algerians combat future threats.
Terrorism expert Emily Hunt was quoted as saying that after this extremist sheik's cruel execution of the two Algerian diplomats, his popularity grew: he gained a huge following among the tribal communities' extremist groups which are scattered throughout the North African desert regions.
Small US special forces teams like this one are now spread across north Africa - training with the local military to deal with this growing threat.
The American soldiers said in interviews with ABC Nightline that the Algerian special forces teams are well-experienced in combating their local brand of terrorism and that the US are now also sharing the most up to date technology available to strengthen the Algerian forces.
Algeria is 99% muslim and has traditionally always had 'chilly' relations with the United States, reports Jonathan Carl of ABC's nightline. more info here