For it is not just that the Algerians’ response in that hideously complex situation cannot be judged without understanding precisely what they thought the hostage-takers were about to do. It is also that the ruthless Algerian approach acknowledges a reality on the ground that the West seems incapable of grasping.
The Algerians refuse to negotiate because they know that the Islamists’ position is simply non-negotiable.
Unlike other hostage-takers, they usually have no interest in getting out alive; they intend to die as ‘martyrs’, and of course have no compunction about killing their captives. Moreover, the purpose of taking hostages is either to kill ‘infidels’, or to extract ransom money for them — which will merely finance more kidnappings and terrorist atrocities.
Such terrorists thus regard with contempt all negotiation as a sign of weakness. And in the world of Islamic fundamentalism, weakness is an incentive to further violence