News / Africa

Experts Warn Congress of Terrorist Influx into Mali

Militiamen from the Ansar Dine Islamic group sit on a vehicle in Gao in northeastern Mali, June 18, 2012.Militiamen from the Ansar Dine Islamic group sit on a vehicle in Gao in northeastern Mali, June 18, 2012.
x
Militiamen from the Ansar Dine Islamic group sit on a vehicle in Gao in northeastern Mali, June 18, 2012.
Militiamen from the Ansar Dine Islamic group sit on a vehicle in Gao in northeastern Mali, June 18, 2012.
Cindy Saine
CAPITOL HILL — A U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs subcommittee held a hearing on the threat of Islamist terrorists in northern Mali.  

Senior U.S. government officials and research institute experts appeared in front of a congressional panel to discuss the situation in northern Mali, where Tuareg nomads launched a rebellion in January against the Bamako government in the south.  

Several of the witnesses told the panel that the Tuaregs' struggle for an independent homeland has been hijacked by well-funded Islamists from abroad, who are seeking to create a safe haven in the Sahara that is being compared to Afghanistan and Somalia.

Rudolph Atallah of the Atlantic Council has spent a lot of time in northern Mali, and says the situation there is becoming bleak.

"Mali is becoming a magnet for foreign fighters, who are flocking in to train recruits to use sophisticated weapons, built for and taken from [the late Libyan leader Moammar] Ghadafi's arsenal," said Atallah.

Atallah said Islamists associated with a recently-formed movement, Ansar Dine, and terrorist group al-Qaida in the in the Islamic Maghreb [AQIM] are recruiting young Tuareg boys with promises of food and money, and teaching them how to use weapons in militarized madrassas.  

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson was also careful to make a distinction between Tuareg rebels and Islamist terrorists.

"And I do make a very sharp and clear distinction," Carson said.  "The Tuareg issue is a political issue; the issue of AQIM and Ansar is a terrorist issue.  They need to be handled separately.  And we should not in the effort to respond to the Tuareg issue drive them into the hands of Ansar el-Dine or into the hands of the Islamists."

Carson also stressed that any military action should be carefully considered and planned by ECOWAS, the Economic Community of West African States.  He also said that regional groups and the United Nations should first focus on securing the capital in the south, before even attempting anything in the north.

"But I do want to underscore that undertaking a military operation in the north of Mali, an area that is the size of France, would require a major effort," Carson added.

Rudolph Atallah of the Atlantic Council agreed, saying that neighboring countries should first seek to cut off terrorists' sources of funding before attempting military action.

"A systematic regional approach, aimed at targeting illegal drug trafficking, tobacco and weapons should be addressed to curb terrorist acts as to money," Atallah noted.

The United Nations Security Council has said that it would be ready to support military intervention by Mali's neighbors to help the country retake the north from militant Islamist control, but would first need to see a detailed plan.

You May Like

African States Push to Keep Boko Haram Offline

Central African telecoms ministers working with Nigeria to block all videos posted by Boko Haram in effort to blunt Nigerian militant group's propaganda More

Falling Oil Prices, Internet-Savvy Youth Pose Challenge for Gulf Monarchies

Across the Gulf, younger generations are putting a strain on traditional politics More

Philippines Call Center Workers Face Challenges

Country has world’s largest business process outsourcing, or BPO, industry, employing some one-million workers More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More