News / Africa

Niger Kidnappings Show Emboldened Reach of al-Qaida

Relatives leave the funeral of Vincent Delory and Antoine De Leocour in Linselles, northern France, 17 Jan 2011
Relatives leave the funeral of Vincent Delory and Antoine De Leocour in Linselles, northern France, 17 Jan 2011
Julia Ritchey

Funerals have been held in France for two Frenchmen kidnapped in Niger this month and later found dead following a failed rescue attempt by French and Nigerien military forces. The terrorist group, al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, has claimed responsibility for the kidnappings. Security analysts say the kidnappings are evidence of the group's expanding operations in the Sahel.

Analysts say the kidnappings of the two Frenchmen from a busy restaurant in Niger's capital on January 7 was a bold move by al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb.

J. Peter Pham is a Sahel security analyst and senior vice president of the National Committee on American Foreign Policy. He says the kidnappings are consistent with a trend that's been going on for the last year and a half.

“The al-Qaida in Islamic Maghreb operational capacity has been expanded, not because [...] all of a sudden they have gotten a huge number of recruits, but what they are doing with some of the resources that they are getting from the kidnappings and smuggling and other operations is they are plowing some of it back into operations by subcontracting out actual kidnappings and other operations,” Pham said.

Pham says this gives the group the ability to take hostages from places it normally does not operate.

“So it is a vicious circle where ransoms bring them more resources, which bring them more effective operations, more deadly operations, which then cycle back around to more resources,” he added. “So it is a spiral downward here.”

In the case of the two dead Frenchmen, it was the first time hostages have been taken from a capital city instead of more remote regions along the Sahel's porous borders.

Seven other hostages, including five French nationals, one Togolese and one Madagascan, are still being held. They were abducted in September from a French uranium mine in Niger.

France's refusal to pay a ransom and instead engage al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb comes with its own risks, though.

Former French ambassador to Senegal and Sahel expert Jean-Christophe Rufin says says there is recognition from France and other countries that criminal and terrorist activity cannot be defeated by military incursions alone. He says France can help these countries react by different means, with development as well, to avoid the proliferation of these terrorist movements.

Pham says an example of this is the U.S.-led military training drills in the region that include a humanitarian component as well as counter-terrorism exercises.

You May Like

Multimedia US Defense Secretary: Iraqi Forces Lack 'Will to Fight'

Ash Carter criticizes Iraq's reaction to Islamic State; National Security Advisor Susan Rice echoed Carter's concerns in an interview on CBS More

Boko Haram Surrounds Havens With Land Mines

Chad and Cameroon say huge numbers of land mines planted by Boko Haram fighters along Cameroon's border with Nigeria are a danger to people, livestock and soldiers More

Women Peace Activists Cross Korean DMZ

Governments of Koreas give international delegation of women peace activists permission to pass through heavily fortified border, but some critics say symbolic crossing only benefits Pyongyang 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs