According to Lieutenant Command Youssef Aboul-Enein, MSC, USN,
"Italian director Gillo Pontecorvos 1966 movie The Battle of Algiers, an
intimate look at urban insurgency, is finding new a audience these days as
coalition forces deal with the militant Islamic insurgency in Iraq. Viewers must
understand, however, that, whereas US and coalition forces in Iraq are working
to empower the Iraqi people to take control of their country and respect its
ethnic and religious differences, from 1954 to 1962 Paris sought to make Algeria
part of metropolitan France. A close examination of the insurgency of the late
1950s that resulted in Algerias independence in 1962, the movie is based on the
book by Saadi Yacef, an Algerian revolutionary turned filmmaker. In this
dramatization, banned in France upon its release, actors convey the tactics of
the urban insurgency that caused instability and attacked French authority in
Algiers; they also impart the dilemma of French troops unable to distinguish
rebels from the populace at large.
In the film, Lieutenant Colonel Mathieu, a French paratroop commander,
comments that military work is secondary; more immediate is the police work
involved. . . . It indicates the kind of work we must do. We then see female
Algerian members of the National Liberation Front (FLN) dressed in European
clothing reacting to such efforts by depositing a bomb in a café. Determined to
sow chaos in Algiers, members of the FLN randomly spray machine-gun fire and
plan the assassination of a French policeman walking his beat in the Kasbah.
Viewers also witness the corrosive effect of the French applying torture and
gain understanding of the kinds of things urban warfare does to regular army
soldiers attempting to bring order to a population that resents and hates them.
As Colonel Mathieu put it, France wills us to be here and therefore because of
this will, she must accept the consequences of this decision.
I highly recommended The Battle of Algiers for US forces going to
Afghanistan or Iraq and as a starting point for a debate on civil-military
affairs, urban warfare, or Middle Eastern affairs."
This is the "extra unit" part of the CJM 304 The Role of Terrorism in Criminal
Justice. Obtain a copy of the movie, The Battle of Algiers. You may
find it at your local library, many universities libraries, or you can click on
the image above and be taken to Amazon. com. After you view the movie,
prepare a 3-5 page reaction paper. A few questions you might ask yourself:
What are the similarities between that conflict and current world events?
What are the differences? How has what you have learned in this course
apply to the movie? How are the events in this movie applicable to
domestic law enforcement? How is the movie applicable to military
A few Links to see what others have said:
A Diplomatic Revolution: Algeria's Fight for Independence
and the Origins of the Post-Cold War Era, by Matthew Connelly Strategic
Insights, Volume III, Issue 2 (February 2004)
A Consequentialist Argument against Torture Interrogation
of Terrorists, Jean Maria Arrigo, Ph.D.
A REVIEW OF THE ALGERIAN WAR OF NATIONAL LIBERATION USING
THE U.S. ARMY'S
CURRENT COUNTERINSURGENCY DOCTRINE, Colonel Karl Goetzke
Due Dates Fall 2007
(Modus Operandi of Terrorists)
Module Three (Response