News / Africa

US Wary of Africa 'Terrorist' Threat, Senegal Detains Suspects

French soldiers search people at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Gao, Mali, February 14, 2013.
French soldiers search people at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Gao, Mali, February 14, 2013.
Reuters
Senegal has detained a Mauritanian and a Malian for suspected terrorist links, its government said on Friday, and a top U.S. defense official called for international teamwork to counter a growing presence of al Qaeda and its allies in Africa.

The United States and African governments are backing a five-week-old French military campaign against Islamist rebels in Senegal's neighbor Mali, calling it a blow against jihadists who threaten attacks in Africa and elsewhere.

After driving the bulk of the rebels from north Mali towns such as Gao and Timbuktu, French, Malian and African troops are pursuing the insurgents in the remote mountainous northeast where they are thought to be holding French hostages.

But the French are struggling to secure the liberated areas from the threat of jihadist suicide bombers and guerrillas who have struck at Gao, raising fears al-Qaida and its allies could attempt reprisal attacks in the wider region.

A Senegalese Justice Ministry official said the Mauritanian and Malian suspects were arrested this week by local police at Velingara, more than 600 km southeast of the Senegalese capital Dakar.

"They are in custody for criminal conspiracy in collusion with terrorist organisations, aimed at undermining the country's military situation and its economic interests,'' Macoumba Mbodj, an adviser at the ministry, told Reuters.

Mbodj said an investigation was continuing and withheld further details. He would not comment on Senegalese media reports saying the detained Mauritanian was a member of al-Qaida who was trying to recruit young men to fight in Mali.

US concerns

In testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee in Washington on Thursday, senior U.S. officials said the threat posed by al-Qaida's North African wing AQIM and allied groups extended well beyond Mali and would require long-term international efforts to "neutralize.''

"This is part of a growing terrorist presence in the region that threatens U.S. citizens, interests and partners,'' said Amanda Dory, U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense for african affairs.

Senegal, which has sent several hundred troops to join a U.N.-backed African military force for Mali that is still being deployed behind the French advance, has tightened security on its southeast border with its West African neighbor.

France has said it wants to begin withdrawing its 4,000 troops from Mali in March, but risks getting sucked into a tough counter-insurgency war in its ex-Sahel colony.

French warplanes this week hit Islamist rebel bases and supply lines in Mali's desert northeast, especially in the Aguelhok region, the French Defense Ministry in Paris said. It said six buildings and a storage zone, as well as a training camp of "terrorist groups,'' had been destroyed.

Extremist "network" in Africa

In her Washington testimony, Dory pointed to an attack last year in Benghazi, Libya that killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans, and to a deadly January raid by jihadists on the In Amenas natural gas plant in Algeria.

She said AQIM had the ability to attack Western interests, and target or kidnap Westerners for ransom.
    
Dory cited danger from what she called "a network of violent extremist organizations in Africa, from Egypt to Libya to Somalia to Nigeria,'' describing a risk of "cross-fertilization and cross-pollination between affiliated groups.''
    
"The threat is dynamic and evolving and our efforts to counter it must be as well.''

Military operations not enough

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson said the Mali intervention should be accompanied by reforms to foster good governance and economic development.

"Terrorists prey upon fragile states,'' Carson said, and the success of the French-led mission would be "fleeting without a democratic and credible government that is responsive to the needs of Malians.''
    
Mali's interim government, formed after a March 22 coup that mired the nation in chaos and led to the north's occupation by rebels, said on Thursday it would hold a presidential election on July 7, and legislative elections two weeks later.

Coup leaders have continued to meddle in state affairs, increasing foreign calls for a legitimate civilian government.

In Mali's recaptured north, pro-autonomy Tuaregs - whose revolt last year was hijacked by the radical Islamists - are demanding direct talks with the central government in Bamako.

Carson said that while there could be no dialogue with groups supporting "terrorism,'' the legitimate political, social and economic grievances of indigenous communities in northern Mali should be addressed.

You May Like

Anti-Terror Drills Highlight China’s Push Into Central Asia

China, Russia, several central Asian countries wrap up massive anti terrorism military drills in Inner Mongolia More

Erdogan’s First Step: Secure More Power in New Role in Turkey

Erdogan was sworn in as Turkey's first popularly elected president on Thursday; he picked former foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu as PM More

Pakistan Army Fails to Break Political Deadlock

PM Sharif claims he didn't ask army to defuse crisis; military rejects claim More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assaulti
X
Daniel Schearf
August 29, 2014 9:30 PM
After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.

AppleAndroid