Hiding in the caves and woodlands surrounding this hill-country town, Algerian insurgents? nationalist battle against the Algerian military was faltering. ?We didn?t have enough weapons,? recalled a former militant lieutenant, Mourad Khettab, 34. ?The people didn?t want to join. And money, we didn?t have enough money.? Then the leader of the group, a university mathematics graduate named Abdelmalek Droukdal, sent a secret message to Iraq in the fall of 2004. The recipient was Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, and the two men on opposite ends of the Arab world engaged in what one firsthand observer describes as a corporate merger. (NYT)

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