The seizing of the In Amenas natural gas extraction plant in the sandy wastes of southern Algeria and the subsequent deaths of at least 37 foreign nationals who worked at the plant was, of course, a tragic episode. It was also a major strategic blunder by Mokhtar Belmokhtar, leader of the ragtag gang who overran the facility in mid-January. Belmokhtar’s declared aim was to halt the French military action which had just begun in Mali --- or at least to deter other nations from joining the French effort. The outcome was the reverse. The four-day siege of the plant internationalized the crisis in Mali as nothing else could have done.