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Old 07-23-2010   #21
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Default France targets 'al-Qaeda militants' in Mauritania

From the BBC:
Quote:
France has confirmed it took part in a raid against alleged al-Qaeda militants alongside Mauritanian troops.
Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-10738467
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Old 07-26-2010   #22
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After 2 unsuccessful operations in sahara by the mauritanian and french special forces to liberate the French hostage (78 years old with heart problems) at the Mali border, AQ in Magreb annonce his execution.

Otage d'Al-Qaïda: Nicolas Sarkozy confirme la mort de Michel Germaneau

http://fr.news.yahoo.com/3/20100726/...y-1be00ca.html
(sorry the link is in French but I believe you can find links in english)

Some are wondering if there is a change in French doctrine on hostage management. I believe there is a change of doctrine in the hostage taker (a change of nature) rather than a change of French doctrine.
AQ in Magreb has shown how courageous they are: they take hostage an old man with heart disease and treated him like ####.
But the problematic remains and is expending in this part of Africa.
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Old 07-27-2010   #23
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Default A little more on the Mali mission

From the BBC:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-10765891

Opens with:
Quote:
Islamist militants in the Sahara Desert are exploiting differences between neighbouring countries to continue to roam around the lawless region unhindered.

The killing of French hostage Michel Germaneau by al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), and the continued threat to other hostages still being held, has cast these differences into sharp relief.
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Old 07-31-2010   #24
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Default from what i've been reading

from what i've been reading and hearing Western Africa is the next global hot spot.
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Old 08-05-2010   #25
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Moderator's Note: A lengthy article looking at the recent operation and originally posted on an un-related thread and moved here.

The french are active in the Sohel...

http://themoornextdoor.wordpress.com...ian-aqim-raid/

Last edited by davidbfpo; 08-05-2010 at 10:14 PM. Reason: Moved here and PM to author
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Old 08-21-2010   #26
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Default Has al-qaeda started a feud with the tuareg?

An interesting report on how feuding hinders the 'struggle':http://www.jamestown.org/programs/gta/single/?tx_ttnews[tt_news]=36764&tx_ttnews[backPid]=26&cHash=49c037ace5

On Mali:
Quote:
Mali is still struggling with a simmering Tuareg insurgency in its vast and poorly controlled northern region. Colonel Hassan Ag Fagaga, a noted Tuareg rebel, has threatened to resume the insurgency if the government does not implement the terms of the 2008 Algiers Accord (El Khabar, July 15). Colonel Ag Fagaga brought 400 Tuareg fighters in for integration with Mali’s armed forces in 2009. He has already deserted twice to join the Tuareg rebels in the north. Al-Qaeda has tried to ingratiate itself with the disaffected Tuareg of northern Mali but has had only marginal success. Some former rebels have even offered to form Tuareg counterterrorist units to expel the mostly Arab al-Qaeda group from the region.
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Old 08-24-2010   #27
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Default Wider than Mali - impact of Spanish hostage release

Thanks to SWJ Blog a NYT story on the release of two Spanish hostages held for nine months:http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/24/wo...html?ref=world

The last two paragraphs refer to Mali:
Quote:
The release of the two Spanish hostages, meanwhile, followed an agreement by Mauritania to extradite to Mali a man convicted by a Mauritanian court in July for his role in the kidnapping of the Spaniards. The Malian citizen, known as Omar the Saharan, was allegedly the mastermind of the abduction and had received a 12-year prison sentence.

Mr. Zapatero thanked Spanish diplomatic and secret services for helping secure the release. But he provided no further insight on Monday on the link between the Malian extradition and the release of the hostages.
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Old 08-25-2010   #28
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Default Spain paid a ransom?

Not an unexpected allegation:
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The Spanish government paid al-Qaeda terrorists £5.6 million to free two Spanish aid workers in North Africa after a nine-month kidnapping ordeal, according to reports.
Link:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...-hostages.html
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Old 12-11-2010   #29
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Default Mali in 2007

Caught on FP Blog in a commentary on Wikileaks:
Quote:
Is it possible to honestly engage these publics on cooperation with U.S. counterterrorism efforts? When I was in Mali in 2007, I was told that President Amadou Toumani Toure had publicly acknowledged the presence of a handful of American forces hunting for al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, and that the forces had even been featured, positively, on local television. This was possible because Mali was a democracy, because citizens genuinely feared Islamist extremism, and because the United States is much more popular in West Africa than in the Arab world. It will, of course, be much harder to make the case in places where the United States is feared and loathed.
Link:http://www.foreignpolicy.com/article...olicy?page=0,1
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Old 01-10-2011   #30
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Default It started in Niger and ended in Mali...

Quote:
France says Niger Frenchmen 'killed in cold blood'
The two men, both 25, were abducted by four gunmen from a restaurant in the capital Niamey on Friday night.
Mr Fillon has suggested they were murdered as the attempted rescue took place the following day.
"The hostage-takers, seeing they were pursued, killed the hostages in cold blood, according to the first elements in my possession," he said.
But a senior Niger military official told Reuters news agency that the bodies were found away from the scene of the clash, implying that they were probably "executed" before the rescue mission.
Relatives have reportedly asked to see the bodies.
French anti-terror police have already arrived in Niger to investigate the deaths.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-12150652

It is the second time that AQMI members choose to assassinate their hostages (at least French ones) rather than turning them.
Hopefully, the perpetrators have been severely damaged to quote a French military source.
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Old 01-10-2011   #31
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Default Organized Crime and Terrorism in the Sahel

SWP, 1 Jan 11: Organized Crime and Terrorism in the Sahel: Drivers, Actors, Options
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The dimensions of organized criminal activity in the Sahel region have fundamentally changed in recent years. As profits from cocaine smuggling and abductions of foreign nationals increase substantially, criminal networks are expanding their influence, eroding both the rule of law and existing social structures. The growing presence of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) should equally be seen in the context of the developing criminal networks. Attempts to counter this trend by boosting the capacities of regional states in the security sector have failed to address the real problems. The EU and Germany should encourage greater regional cooperation. Key states are Algeria, which claims regional leadership, and Mali, which has yet to begin tackling organized crime.....

Last edited by Jedburgh; 01-10-2011 at 11:36 PM.
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Old 02-14-2011   #32
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Default Drugs-Terror in Liberia

Not strictly on Mali, but this thread has covered stories on the drugs and terror links.

A short BBC report on US nationals accused in Liberia:
Quote:
Seven people, including two Americans, have been charged with conspiring to aid the Afghan Taliban by selling the militant group weapons and moving drugs through West Africa, US officials say.
Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-12460236
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Old 03-25-2011   #33
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Default The genesis of terrorism in the Sahara: Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb

An interesting analysis of AQIM and how it has made itself at home in the barren parts of the Sahel, in Niger and Mali:http://www.opendemocracy.net/opensec...utm_campaign=0

As AQIM activities appear to revolve around kidnapping the last sentence is telling:
Quote:
The criminalisation of the Sahel’s political economy might cause more enduring damage than the Jihad.
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Old 04-20-2011   #34
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Default AQIM podcast

The author of the previous article is back:
Quote:
Yvan Guichaoua, West Africa expert researching non-government armed groups, describes what kind of force Al Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb is, what motivates its members and what are the conditions of its success. Smuggling, fast cars, and the economics of ransoms combine with ideology to create a threat.
Podcast - forty minutes - and yet to be listened to:http://www.opendemocracy.net/yvan-gu...4-20%2005%3a30
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Old 05-20-2011   #35
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Default West Africa's 'cocaine coast'

An IISS Strategic Comment:
Quote:
Could West Africa follow Mexico's path into drugs and gang-fuelled violence? The question sounds alarmist, but has concerned international law-enforcement agencies in recent years, as countries such as Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Ghana, Benin and Nigeria have emerged as major transhipment points for the global trade in cocaine and heroin. With the business increasingly a destabilising force in West Africa, G8 ministers meeting in Deauville next week will discuss a new initiative to tackle it.
Link:http://www.iiss.org/publications/str...cocaine-coast/

An indication of the scale of the cocaine trade comes from:
Quote:
Burkina Faso's customs agency destroys more than 100 tonnes of cocaine every year, but this is believed to represent only a small fraction of the drugs circulating the country.
Burkina Faso is the third least developed countries in the world:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burkina_Faso
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Old 05-20-2011   #36
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Default What I can tell you (not very much).

I’ve avoided participating in this forum after a number of my previous postings involved a high posturing to information exchange ratio but since this involves Burkina I’ll bite. I may well end up regretting it, but here goes.

How I know: My better half likely knows more about Burkina Faso than any American citizen who does not hold a security clearance. I spent five weeks with her there last summer, mostly in Bobo with a few days immediately after arrival and prior to departure in Ouaga. I also read a lot.

In my short time there I observed nothing that looked like evidence of any domestic drug trade. On the one hand, why should I given my horrible French and the briefness of my visit. On the other hand, I have some knowledge of how drug dealing works at the street level (if anyone is dying to know how I came about that knowledge PM me) and I didn’t see any signs of it. Mind you, this is almost all in Bobo. I did see some prostitutes during my few days in Ouaga so the crime situation there is almost certainly different.

But as the linked article points out, you have to go through Burkina if you want to get anything that came off a ship in Ghana to Mali without a (more) circuitous route so a traffic in cocaine is plausible. I was in on a couple of conversations with Burkinabé regarding the mechanics of stealing, shipping, and fencing stolen scooters. Can’t recall the particulars, and all it proves is that there are criminal networks in the region, not that they are moving drugs and/or affiliated to international terror networks. But it does go to plausibility.

I don’t know more than the average man in the street about al-Qaeda—actually, and rather distressingly given al-Qaeda’s prominence in American political discourse, I know far more than the average man in the street about al-Qaeda, I just know very little indeed—nor do I know much about how intelligence work is done, but I have to wonder if any supposed chatter about al-Qaeda in the Sahel isn’t from time to time put into circulation by private firms looking to hire out to the U.S. Government rather than from federal employees.* Burkina Faso does have a tiny military, but outside of Ouaga it is the kind of place where everyone knows everyone else and a non-West African African would stick out, not to mention someone from anywhere else. Which is to say that even a black Yemeni can’t expect to blend in there.† Anecdotally, there does seem to be some surveillance for international terror types. I spent a few hours of one afternoon in successive army and gendarme custody after trespassing onto a military base (but really, when there are no fences or signs how are foreigners supposed to know? as the gendarme pointed out to the sergeant who hauled me to the gendarmerie, right before adding, “Like I say every time you bring another one down here.”). After the incident one of my Burkinabé friends said words to the effect of “You never had anything to worry about. Now, if you had been an Arab…” While reading up prior to my visit I found a couple of blurbs about an international military training in Ouaga a couple of months prior to my arrival which I would assume implies a continued U.S. engagement with Burkinabé security forces at some level.

All of the above should be viewed in light of the face that I was in Burkina Faso prior to the winter and spring military and political changes in fortune in Côte d'Ivoire and the recent unrest in Burkina itself.

*I’m not implying any nasty corporate intrigue. But someone looking to pick up a federal contract might from time to time give a talk or interview suggesting this or that with the knowledge that it is going to be picked up in some form by a journalist on a deadline.

†I am not saying there (are or) are not real concerns regarding an al-Qaeda presence in Burkina Faso. I mean, if I were in a position to know that why would I be discussing it on this forum? I’m just saying that any suggestions regarding terror networks in Burkina needs to be viewed in light of certain constraints.

Last edited by ganulv; 05-20-2011 at 11:34 PM. Reason: To fix a bad link &tc.
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Old 05-23-2011   #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ganulv View Post
In my short time there I observed nothing that looked like evidence of any domestic drug trade. On the one hand, why should I given my horrible French and the briefness of my visit. On the other hand, I have some knowledge of how drug dealing works at the street level (if anyone is dying to know how I came about that knowledge PM me) and I didn’t see any signs of it. Mind you, this is almost all in Bobo. I did see some prostitutes during my few days in Ouaga so the crime situation there is almost certainly different.

But as the linked article points out, you have to go through Burkina if you want to get anything that came off a ship in Ghana to Mali without a (more) circuitous route so a traffic in cocaine is plausible. I was in on a couple of conversations with Burkinabé regarding the mechanics of stealing, shipping, and fencing stolen scooters. Can’t recall the particulars, and all it proves is that there are criminal networks in the region, not that they are moving drugs and/or affiliated to international terror networks. But it does go to plausibility.
Interesting.

Trafficking on this level will spread its tentacles into the power structures of a nation. The big money is in the transshipment to Europe. Domestic markets for cocaine and opiates, or lack thereof, may be a clue into the nature of the trade.

The domestic consumer market for cocaine and heroin in Mexico during the 80’s and 90’s was much smaller than it is today. Basically there was a system and there were rules; if you open a kilo in Mexico, you die. The current violence in Mexico is attributable in part to the collapse of this system in the late-90s and early-2000s.
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Old 05-23-2011   #38
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Originally Posted by ganulv View Post
In my short time there I observed nothing that looked like evidence of any domestic drug trade.
I certainly don't want you regretting your post herein, but do have some comments.

Burkina was once famous for trafficking in people and all the ideal circumstances that promote and harness organized crime still exist there.

I don't doubt you know what a multimillion dollar drug transit point looks like, but I do doubt that in your brief stay you stumbled across the king pins by conversing in French with the locals.

As far as the incident with the gendarme goes, all he probably wanted from you was 5 bucks and you would have been well on your way.
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Old 05-24-2011   #39
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Quote:
I don't doubt you know what a multimillion dollar drug transit point looks like, but I do doubt that in your brief stay you stumbled across the king pins by conversing in French with the locals.
I actually don’t. Almost all of my first hand with the drug trade is at the street level. My French is ####e even if that is something anyone would talk about with a stranger. I just mean I didn’t observe any tell-tale signs in Bobo. Ave. Nkrumah in Ouaga had a different feel, though I didn’t develop any real sense of the place.

Quote:
Trafficking on this level will spread its tentacles into the power structures of a nation.
That stands to reason but I just didn’t see it in Bobo. Might have had something to do with the tension in Côte d'Ivoire cutting off a corridor?

Quote:
As far as the incident with the gendarme goes, all he probably wanted from you was 5 bucks and you would have been well on your way.
Nah, though I originally assumed I was going to come out of the whole ordeal a digital camera (that was never going to make it to an evidence locker) shorter I changed hands far too many times and too many folks laid eyes on me. The gendarme who ended up clearing me was incredibly easy to deal with and actually and amazingly cut his boss short a couple of times on my behalf.

Last edited by ganulv; 05-24-2011 at 02:57 AM. Reason: typo fix
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Old 06-05-2011   #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bourbon View Post
Trafficking on this level will spread its tentacles into the power structures of a nation. The big money is in the transshipment to Europe. Domestic markets for cocaine and opiates, or lack thereof, may be a clue into the nature of the trade.
Your comment came to mind while listen to an NPR piece today—the particularly relevant bit begins around 2:10.
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