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Thread: Al-Qaeda in Africa (merged thread)

  1. #41
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    Here are Ham's fears, stated sometime ago, that al-Qaeda and al-Shabaab link is dangerous for the US as well.
    "If you ask me what keeps me awake at night, it is the thought of an American passport-holding person who transits through a training camp in Somalia and gets some skill and then finds their way back into the United States to attack Americans here in our homeland," General Carter Ham, the head of the United States Africa Command, said late last year.
    That link is somewhat more formal and confirmed now.
    News that Harakat Al-Shabaab - long associated with al Qaeda but never formally welcomed into the family - has gotten the blessingp from al Qaeda's leader seems to be a merger that was a long time coming. But the announcement does raise concerns that that the Somali terror group could help them in plotting to attack on U.S. soil.
    Both of the above quotes come from the same link.
    http://security.blogs.cnn.com/2012/0...-new-concerns/

  2. #42
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    Chowing,

    Does everything have to revolve around America?

    General Ham is free to say what he likes but if the metric for measuring America's concern about BH is real or imaginary links to Al Qaeda then American reasoning and policy in the Sahel region is badly flawed.

    I appreciate that America needs to have an American centric foreign policy, but sometimes America needs to do things simply because they are the right things to do. Not everything should be subjected to a binary test of whether US interests are involved.

    I am not suggesting that America should get involved in the fight against BH, but senior American policy makers/officials need to understand that there is an entire world listening to their words and the motivation behind them.

    America is the most activist major power on earth. America has called on many nations (including my own) to take on sacrifices in blood and treasure to support American strategic interests. If they atmospherics suggest that America is only narrowly focused on what it percieves as its core interests - then well and good, but don't just expect a more democratic Africa to support America with the traditional levels of enthusiasm next time around.

    Alternatively, US Army generals could shut their mouths and cease speculating on the internal affairs of African states.

  3. #43
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Good and terribly accurate post, KingJaja

    Sadly...

  4. #44
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KingJaja View Post
    I appreciate that America needs to have an American centric foreign policy, but sometimes America needs to do things simply because they are the right things to do. Not everything should be subjected to a binary test of whether US interests are involved.

    I am not suggesting that America should get involved in the fight against BH, but senior American policy makers/officials need to understand that there is an entire world listening to their words and the motivation behind them.
    What would you have America do, or say?

    It sometimes seems as if when America notices Africa, the reaction is "stay out of our business"; when America doesn't notice the reaction is "why are you ignoring Africa"? Of course when that dichotomy comes up the reaction is always that the attention given is the wrong sort, but what's the right sort? Other than sending lots of money, of course...
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

    H.L. Mencken

  5. #45
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    What would you have America do, or say?

    It sometimes seems as if when America notices Africa, the reaction is "stay out of our business"; when America doesn't notice the reaction is "why are you ignoring Africa"? Of course when that dichotomy comes up the reaction is always that the attention given is the wrong sort, but what's the right sort? Other than sending lots of money, of course...
    1. Label Boko Haram as a terrorist organisation - which it is. Stop all the verbal gymnastics and second guessing.
    2. Appreciate that the primary concern of Africans is not links between any group and AQIM, but loss of life and limb.
    3. Get your policy makers (especially our dear general) to appreciate that fact.
    4. Show some more concern for the victims of the attacks, do not reduce the discussion to "Western interests this" and "Western interests that".
    5. Get out of the way.

  6. #46
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KingJaja View Post
    1. Label Boko Haram as a terrorist organisation - which it is. Stop all the verbal gymnastics and second guessing.
    One of the criteria for a US designation as a foreign terrorist organization is the following:

    The organization’s terrorist activity or terrorism must threaten the security of U.S. nationals or the national security (national defense, foreign relations, or the economic interests) of the United States.
    Does BH meet that criterion?

    I'm not personally convinced that a US "terrorist organization" designation on BH would be of any real utility. It would make it illegal for a US person or organization to fund or assist BH, but I doubt that's a significant factor. On the negative side, it would only fuel the rumours of impending US miitary action, it would internationalize the perception of BH, and could easily accelerate and deepen links between BH and AQIM.

    What useful goal would you expect the designation to accomplish?

    Quote Originally Posted by KingJaja View Post
    2. Appreciate that the primary concern of Africans is not links between any group and AQIM, but loss of life and limb.

    3. Get your policy makers (especially our dear general) to appreciate that fact.
    We do appreciate that, and I expect the policy makers do too. However, our policy makers do not (and should not) make policy on the basis of African concerns. Your policy makers do... or should, at least. Some role confusion here, I think.

    What policies would you want our policy makers to make... and why? I don't see that any US policy will have any impact on BH and the loss of life and limb that BH produces.

    Quote Originally Posted by KingJaja View Post
    4. Show some more concern for the victims of the attacks, do not reduce the discussion to "Western interests this" and "Western interests that".
    To pick on a small but important distinction, do you want them to express concern (words) or show concern (actions). If the latter, what actions would you think appropriate? It would be hypocritical for Western governments to pretend that they are not primarily concerned with Western interests, and nobody would be convinced.

    Quote Originally Posted by KingJaja View Post
    5. Get out of the way.
    Are we in the way? How so? What exactly would you have us do to get out of the way? What action is our non-presence preventing or discouraging?
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

    H.L. Mencken

  7. #47
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default AQ & Al-Shabaab - assessing the threat

    This commentary on AQ's merger could fit in the Horn of Africa Non-piracy Somali thread, so will be copied there. Hat tip to FP Blog:http://www.foreignpolicy.com/article...erger?page=0,0

    A good summary and ends with well made points:
    It's one thing to have a loaded gun; it's another to pull the trigger and safely walk away. Al-Shabab might elevate its status in the jihadi world by hitting an American target on U.S. soil, but in doing so it would risk an even harsher crackdown on its bases in Somalia.

    But then, al-Shabab has earned one more dangerous distinction: It is the only jihadi organization ever to convince Americans -- at least four, so far -- to serve as suicide bombers. It would not be wise to count on al Qaeda's newest affiliate to act in its own self-interest.
    davidbfpo

  8. #48
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    Default Global Jihad Sustained Through Africa

    A report by a RUSI analyst, Valentina Soria, that considers:
    Africa represents a fertile ground for a diminished ‘Al-Qa’ida-core’ to re-group,
    re-energise and re-launch its mission of global jihad.
    The Key Findings are:
    Recent attacks in Nigeria, coupled with ongoing insurgency in Somalia and current turmoil in Mali, underline that the jihadist challenge may be migrating to Somalia, Kenya, north Nigeria and the borderlands of some of the vast territories of West Africa.

    a) As the central leadership of Al-Qa’ida is weakened and challenged, the terrorist movement is looking to partnerships in Saharan and Sub-Saharan Africa to re-group and re-energise itself
    b) Despite greater co-operation, there seems to be an unresolved tension between transnational aims of Al-Qa’ida-core and the local grievances of African partners
    c) Following the alliance with Al-Qa’ida-core, regional affiliates such as Al-Qa’ida in the Maghreb and Al-Shabaab have undergone similar patterns of strategic, tactical and propagandistic evolution
    d) Nigeria’s Boko Haram is still focused on a local campaign, but
    recent operational refinement and ability to stage deadly ‘spectaculars’ suggests disturbing connections with other regional terror groups
    e) Links between Al-Qa’ida-core and some jihadist groups in Africa have been established over the last decade which vary in strategic and operational significance
    f) A range of new challenges are possible as jihadism evolves and disperses into territories of ungoverned space across large stretches of the African continent. Among these are the potential for radicalisation and mobilisation of a new subset of British youth in the UK
    The later has got the headlines in the UK. There is also a profile of Al-Shabaab in Somalia

    Link:http://www.rusi.org/downloads/assets/UKTA2.pdf
    davidbfpo

  9. #49
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    It is very difficult to argue with what she wrote, but we must understand that the practice of Islam in West Africa is not monolithic, and that adherence to a particular brand of Islam or Christian is linked to tribal affiliation.

    Boko Haram is being described as a "Northern Nigerian" phenomena, it is really a Hausa-Fulani/Kanuri phenomena largely limited to the parts of Nigeria where Hausa is the lingua franca.

    This is why Kenya, Nigeria and most of West Africa are different from Somalia. Kenya's Islamists are more likely to be ethnic Somalis or from the Mombasa area. That makes them easier to isolate and presents us with the terrifying prospect of massive retaliation attacks by the majority Christian tribes in Kenya, should the situation get out of hand.

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