Adrian has another post today as part of the MediaShack 9/11 series. Its a follow up to last week’s superb superb look at CT in the South Sahara. Given his numerous guest posts, frequent commenting and passing along of articles, I think its time to give him full membership at AMS, so I sent him an official neo-green Arabic Media Shack t-shirt. It really looks good. He’ll get so many numbers wearing this baby around town, and I know he will because he has a habit of wearing t-shirt to literally every bar he goes to (even if that means getting kicked out)!!! Anyway, the floor goes to Adrian (I lost his password, thats why the post is under my name).
ADRIAN TAKES THE FLOOR
The Economist this week has a decent article on North African terror networks. Some comments:
“AQIM says it has also carried out attacks in Mauritania. It claims responsibility for the killing of four French tourists, which forced the cancellation of this year’s Paris-Dakar car rally;”;”
There is no actual iron-clad confirmation that that was AQIM and not some random robbery/homicide, although a recent blog post has done more to convince me that it was in fact terrorism-related. The Moor Next Door has just posted some extremely interesting observations based on the notes on interrogations of some AQIM members he received from his “well placed Mauritanian friend’ (sketchy/awesome!) where the local AQIM/Mauritania “emir” states they killed the tourists to steal their passports. This might explain why there was no triumphant declaration of responsibility. This should be taken with a grain of salt, as it IS the Mauritanians interrogating him, so while before I thought it was 50/50 as to whether its AQIM related, now it’s probably 80/20. People interested in AQIM should watch The Moor Next Door’s blog, as he says he’ll be posting more notes from the interrogations.
“and an attack on Israel’s embassy in the capital, Nouakchott.”
“Tunisia is yet another apparent target of AQIM. The group has boasted that it kidnapped two Austrian tourists there earlier this year.”
The kidnapping occured across the border in Algeria because the tourists got lost. It looks more like a crime of opportunity designed to get some quick cash than any serious terrorist Nicholas Berg-like event. There hasn’t been much news about the hostages in the last couple months but I haven’t heard that they were killed – they were still alive on Sept 9.
“North African groups tied to al-Qaeda have yet to carry out attacks in Europe.”
In fact some of the GIA-era cells from the 1990s have been turned by French intelligence and as far as we know AQIM has no assets in Europe even with all the Algerians in France. (Sorry no source available.)
The Moor Next Door reports that the Algerian wing (i.e. the main wing) has been sending the Mauritanians some money to do terrorism, and so the Mauritanian wing is dependent on the Algerians for cash. But how much money do you need to do nothing? While there was a recent big event with 12 Mauritanian soldiers beheaded, it looks like Algerians were responsible for that (similar to the raid they launched in Mauritania just before Operation Flintlock 2005). Compared to the Algeria’s two major guerrilla operations in Mauritania in 3 years, the Mauritanians themselves have been able to murder some tourists and shoot up a disco.
The last sentence of the article I think is the right idea: “But governments in the Maghreb are certainly trying to stir Western anxieties in order to get more American and European cash and support.” Aid money may be hard to come by when you are a corrupt dictatorship with a rule-of-law problem, but it becomes much easier when you suddenly (through no fault of your own!) find yourself fighting terrorists.