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

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

Interior Minister Avakov says 91 people 'in positions of leadership' have been fired, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Moscow governments More

US Airlines Point to Additional Problems of any Ebola Travel Ban

Airline officials note that even under travel ban, they may not be able to determine where passenger set out from, as there are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone More

Nigerian President to Seek Another Term

Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid