The deserts of North Africa are a new front in the global “war on terror”. Islamic extremists, loosely affiliated to al-Qa’ida, are attacking Western interests. The legacy of years of horrifying sectarian bloodletting in Algeria has led to an “arc of insecurity” stretching from Senegal to Somalia, with some of the fiercest action in Algeria and Mali. Rarely has a nation’s suffering been so under-reported. More than 150,000 people have been killed by their fellow Algerians, mostly with sickening cruelty, since 1992. Meanwhile, the power and influence of the fighters who call themselves Al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb has been growing inexorably. For those seeking to understand why Algeria’s tragedy matters and what it means, Robert Fisk, who raised the alarm about what was happening in Algeria while the rest of the world looked away, it is essential reading.