I don't think the kidnapping was a real succes tey like to repeat: too many people and material were involved over a very long time and everybody is hunting them now (to get them or the money if payed). The local contrebande business had been disturbed.
It doesn't matter if a ransom had been payed or not: the rumor is enough to think about kidnapping as interesting business, even with only 1/100 of the sum mentioned .
I think the risks in the central Sahara (not limited to DZ!!) are more:
- simple bandits go into kidnapping and robbery ("arresting" tourists for some days and release them after "payment" of a car is not unknown in the past and could become more frequent
- military, surprised by tourists in unexpected situations will shoot without warning (happened once in DZ in 2001).
- terrorists, pursued by military will take hostages as human shield.
See: http://www.algeria-interface.com/new/rubriques/french/depecheafp.php?doc=031 031102259.ds6gqy0q.xml
- a new, unexpected action by terrorists
In DZ tourist groups are said to get armed escorts depending on the situation even for a simple trip in the Teffedest area.
This said, I don't consider traveling by your own vehicle in central sahara, on normal pistes as in remote areas, actually as a sensible adventure. The risk could be limited by close cooperation with locals and local authorities.
[This message has been edited by Yves (edited 01 November 2003).]