News / Africa

African Al-Qaida Group Targeting Foreign Companies to Build Popular Support

TEXT SIZE - +

As African terrorists affiliated with al-Qaida target corporate interests in the Sahel as part of a campaign to boost popular support, regional governments are trying to better coordinate their response.

Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb focuses mainly on bombing military outposts and kidnapping tourists and foreign aid workers.

Last week's abduction of construction consultants, however, from Togo and Madagascar, along with five French engineers, shows the group is expanding its campaign of violence to portray itself as defending the region against foreign commercial exploitation.

The French nuclear energy firm Areva is mining one of the world's richest deposits of uranium in Niger.  Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb spokesman Salah Abu Mohammed said uranium is a strategic resource that France has been stealing for decades.

Mohammed said foreign companies that are exploiting the natural resources of the Sahel must know that they are legitimate targets of Muslim freedom fighters.  He said those companies should leave quickly because they are illegally exhausting the region's resources.

Al-Qaida in Islamic Maghreb tries to position itself

Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, which is also known by its initials AQIM, began in Algeria in 1992 as the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat.

Political analyst Joseph Kirschke says the violence of the Algerian conflict led the group to market itself as the defender of oppressed civilians.

"These guys are kind of left overs from a really messy civil war that only ended about ten years ago, and they are trying really hard to gain legitimacy," said Kirschke.

"There were all kinds of civilian casualties in that conflict.  AQIM came out of that conflict with a great sort of mandate to spare civilian lives and to come out as sort of the Robin Hood type players in the al-Qaida franchise, if you will," said Kirschke.

AQIM says it kidnapped three Spanish aid workers, for example, because Spain is a member of the NATO alliance, which it says is an instrument of foreign military aggression. AQIM killed a French hostage in Mali after French and Mauritanian troops tried unsuccessfully to free him.

In a statement read on the Al-Jazeera television network, the al-Qaida group vowed to revenge the killing of six of its fighters during the Franco-Mauritanian raid, calling on citizens of the Sahel to join in retaliating against France and its allies.

Coordinated military pressure increases

Military pressure on al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb is growing.  Hundreds of French commandos are in the Sahel to help search for the kidnapped uranium engineers. Also, Mauritania's army struck an AQIM supply convoy near the Malian city of Timbuktu last week.

Political analyst Isselmou Ould Mustapha said Mauritania is taking the fight to al-Qaida.  Mustapha said the battle now is in areas of the Sahel where al-Qaida previously felt free to operate.  He said they are on defense as they are being pushed farther back into the desert.

Mustapha said AQIM is not as strong as it once was, in part, because Mauritania's military has them on the run as part of a strategy of self-defense by attack.

When it comes to al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, the U.N. Special Representative for West Africa Said Djinnit said there is no alternative to regional cooperation with international support.  "How can you expect poor countries with weak governance, institutions, structures and capacities to effectively control such huge territories inhabited by nomads and people with very long standing culture and traditions, which resists any change because they want to stay in their territory, and yet with the feeling of neglect?''

AQIM seeks Islamic rule

Political analyst Kirschke says al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb is using under-development to push for greater Islamic rule.

"They are trying really hard to stand up for the everyman, so to speak, in the region.  In the bigger picture, I think they have the same interests that al-Qaida does everywhere in terms of drawing Western military forces into the region and focusing on creating a caliphate, a larger state dedicated to Islamic or Sharia law throughout the Islamic world," said Kirschke.

Regional approach by governments deemed essential

The U.N.'s Djinnit said only a coordinated, regional approach can prevent al-Qaida from expanding to countries such as Burkina Faso and linking up with what he calls "extremist elements" in northern Nigeria.  "I always feared that what is happening in this small part of the Sahel would increasingly expand to affect other parts of West Africa, either directly or through ramifications networks. That remains my fear."

Greater regional cooperation in the fight against al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb is slowed by mistrust and weakness in internal security, especially in Mali.  Algeria, Burkina Faso, Chad, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger are working on a joint plan of action to confront AQIM, which is thought to be regrouping along the borders of Algeria, Mali and Niger after being driven from its original bases along the Algerian coast.

You May Like

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Turkish Law Gives Spy Agency Controversial Powers

Parliament approves legislation to bolster powers of intelligence service, which government claims is necessary to modernize and deal with new threats Turkey faces More

Video Face of American Farmer Changing

Average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Face of American Farmer is Changingi
X
Mike Osborne
April 18, 2014
The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid