News / Africa

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

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

UN: 1 Million Somalis at Risk of Hunger

Group warns region is in dire need of humanitarian aid, with at least 200,000 children under age of five acutely malnourished as drought hits southern, central part of nation More

Human Rights Groups Allege Supression of Freedoms in Thailand

Thailand’s military, police have suppressed release of independent report assessing human rights in kingdom during first 100 days of latest coup More

Jennifer Lawrence Contacts FBI After Nude Photos Hacked

'Silver Linings Playbook' actress' photos were posted on image-sharing forum 4chan; Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into matter 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.
Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forcesi
X
September 02, 2014 12:58 PM
A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Internet, Technology Offer New Tools for Journalists

The Internet and rapidly evolving technology is quickly changing how people receive news and how journalists deliver it. There are now more ways to tell a story than ever before. One school in Los Angeles is teaching the next generation of journalists with the help of a state-of-the-art newsroom. Elizabeth Lee has this report.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.

AppleAndroid