DAN JOSEPH - What is al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM)?
♦ The group is al-Qaida's North African affiliate, tracing its roots back to Islamist militants who fought Algeria's government in the 1990s
♦ One of the two local militant groups, the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, united with al-Qaida in 2006 and re-branded itself as AQIM.
♦ The United States designated it as a terrorist organization in February 2008.
Where Is it Active?
AQIM is mainly active in the Sahara and Sahel regions of West Africa but has claimed responsibility for attacks in other areas, such as Tunisia and now, Ivory Coast.
What Does AQIM Want?
♦ The group's objectives are to topple secular governments or those they deem insufficiently Islamic and replace them with regimes based on Sharia.
♦ AQIM imposed fundamentalist rule on parts on northern Mali in 2012, when it briefly took control of the region with fellow Islamist groups Ansar Dine and MUJAO.
What Has It Done?
♦ AQIM has claimed responsibility for numerous raids, suicide bombings and kidnappings, including bombings that killed more than 40 people in Algeirs in December 2007 and the recent attacks on hotels in Bamako, Ouagadougou and Grand Bassam.
♦ The group finances itself by smuggling contraband such as guns, drugs and cigarettes, and through kidnappings that have generated tens of millions of dollars in ransom.