Analysis: Mali’s Islamist Groups United by War Threat

David Lewis, Reuters, January 15, 2013

A powerful southern offensive by Islamists in Mali last week, halted only by French air strikes, showed that a loose alliance of rebels from al Qaeda’s North African wing and local groups has been united by the threat of foreign intervention.

When the coalition of Islamists swept across northern Mali last year, massacring army troops and carving up the vast desert zone, ties between Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and local groups Ansar Dine and MUJWA had looked opportunistic, and regional mediators believed they could prize them apart.

Some fighters imposed strict Islamic law and recruited foreigners and locals hungry for jihad, others framed the conflict around local Malian tribal politics and religion, while criminal networks smuggling drugs and contraband joined the fray, earning them the title “gangster jihadists”.

With Mali’s army crippled by political divisions and a series of defeats to rebels that led to a March coup, West African mediators tried to divide the rebels by offering talks to local Islamists while excluding foreigners, extremists and criminals.

U.N. backing in December for an African-led intervention due later this year changed the picture.

“People in the north don’t have any choice now but to stand together,” said Algabass Ag Intallah, a senior member of Ansar Dine, a group that only last month had committed to peace talks with Mali’s government. “This is an aggression. We all have to defend ourselves.”

{snip}

The seizure by Islamists of the northern two-thirds of Mali, for decades one of West Africa’s most stable democracies, sowed fears that its desert dunes and craggy mountain ranges could become a base for terrorist attacks on Europe.

Yet as Islamists severed limbs, silenced music and smashed traditional Sufi shrines in the ancient caravan town of Timbuktu—acts reminiscent of Afghanistan under the Taliban—Malians and foreign powers wavered throughout 2012.

{snip}

Some governments advocated dialogue to tackle the long-standing political grievances of those living in Mali’s under-developed north. Others, led by France, called for swift military action to stamp out a security threat, finally winning U.N. backing for an African-led operation.

{snip}

These divisions evaporated lat week with the united rebel advance on the central town of Konna, a gateway toward the southern capital Bamako, deemed so dangerous that Paris reversed pledges not to intervene directly. The African force, which had not been expected until September, is being hastily rolled out.

Even Algeria, which had previously hoped to unravel the coalition by enticing Ansar Dine into peace talks, dropped its opposition to military intervention, allowing French Rafale jets to fly via its airspace to pound the rebels.

{snip}

Mali and other countries in the region say scores of fanatical foreign fighters have flocked to the north. Independent reports on their numbers and their origin vary wildly.

“The numbers I have heard range from 100s to 1,000s, so it is clear that no one has much of a clue,” a senior Western security official told Reuters.

A Reuters correspondent travelling in Gao in the weeks before the French intervention reported at least three white Westerners in the Islamist ranks there.

French officials have said about 10 of its citizens have been arrested trying to reach Mali to join the rebels. Late last year, the FBI arrested two U.S. citizens they said were planning to travel to West Africa to carry out jihad.

{snip}

Officials and residents say MUJWA, based in the eastern town of Gao, has succeeded in recruiting black Africans from Mali and elsewhere in the West African region in a way AQIM never did.

The West African official involved in the mediation process called it a “gangrene” that had been underestimated.

Marc Trevidic, France’s top anti-terrorism judge, warned that Mali was the first case of jihad in sub-Saharan Africa.

“For the first time there is a ‘black jihad’: a jihad done for blacks by blacks,” he told Reuters, saying its militants were both West Africans and dual nationals able to move freely in and out of France.

Paris is concerned at the ability of African Muslims, some of whom have dual nationality, to move between France and the region.

“That is the number one potential threat. It is the number one enemy to France,” he said.

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  • ArmenianWN

    If you were to mix the Black Race and and the Islamic religion, the result is a country like Mali

    • guest

      Sadly, to this day, there are still so many people who are naive and foolish enough to believe it’s possible to live peacefully with the Islamists among us. From time to time, the Islamists even admitted to being at war with Westernized countries and they never hesitate to kill those who are against them. Those who believe that Islamists are peaceful are extremely delusional.

      • Libearlsuck

        Look at every country where they have dominated or become the majority in. that’s why I don’t want them here!

    • StillModerated

      This statement is not racist, but it is funny!

      • Bobbala

        It is so racist, meaning it’s true.

  • Triarius

    There is an ancient Armenian saying about something like this. It goes along the lines of: “We are dogs attacking each other, but unite against the wolf.”

    It was about Armenian tribes that constantly fought each other for control, but united against a common enemy. I wish whites could be capable of this.

    • splitsing

      I hate to say it, but rather than a death by a thousand needles, I hope there is some cataclysmic event that unites Whites against their oppression and dispossession. I am afraid it’s going to have to take a big blow to get the wake up call but hopefully that’s possible.

      • Liberalsuck

        I think something will unite whites together, but things will have to be very traumatic to wake them up.

  • StillModerated

    As far as I have guessed is that bombing African countries isn’t worth it. It’s alternate foreign aid. Oil workers get paid danger money, and they know the risks. Eventually Big Oil will pull out of these Hell-holes and the natives can die of clan warfare and starvation — which they did even before TV and the internet

    • dukem1

      Bombing them would be worth it if we would follow through and just plain conquer them, take over, take what we want and leave the rest.

      Now that I’m thinking about this, I’d say that such a scenario would be fine with the natives. It would be something they understand. Problem solved.

  • storibund
  • http://countenance.wordpress.com/ Question Diversity

    We’re going into Mali, with boots on the ground.

    Who predicted that? “But Obama kept us out of war!” “He got us out of wars.” “He’s secretly against the Jews.” All tripe I had to read on AR last year.

    Now, as long as it’s from the air only, no boots on the ground, I’m okay with it, just to keep another Towelie-Ban from brewing. But I fear that we’ll be “compelled” to take in Mali “refugees” no matter what.

    • The__Bobster

      Refugees who will take revenge on us for “only bombing them from the air”.

    • dukem1

      “The suspect has been identified by police as a Mali-American.”
      Headline headed to a newspaper near you.

    • Nathanwartooth

      You will also be called a xenophobe if you say anything about not wanting them in your country.

  • splitsing

    It’s very sad for France that their politicians sold their country down the river. Without a pogrom to eradicate the third world infestation, France stands no chance.

  • bigone4u

    To be frank about it I would not be able to locate Mali on a world globe. However, I suppose with the world as it is, I should check it out since yet another war involving us will be keeping the country in the news for a while. It gets boring looking up all these damn countries. The hell with all of them.

  • The__Bobster

    http://www.vdare.com/articles/al-qaida-in-the-heart-of-africa

    French bombing is already causing civilian casualties. This could produce blowback in France, where thousands of Malians have emigrated. Many French yet remember the homeland terrorism as they fought their eight-year war from 1954 to 1962 to hold Algeria.

    This week’s seizure of Western hostages in Algeria is Islamist retaliation for Algeria’s having allowed France to use its airspace in the attacks in Mali. And as Syria’s civil war has brought jihadis on the run, an Islamist war against France in the Sahel region of Africa could do the same.

  • The__Bobster

    http://www.vdare.com/articles/al-qaida-in-the-heart-of-africa

    French bombing is already causing civilian casualties. This could produce blowback in France, where thousands of Malians have emigrated. Many French yet remember the homeland terrorism as they fought their eight-year war from 1954 to 1962 to hold Algeria.

    This week’s seizure of Western hostages in Algeria is Islamist retaliation for Algeria’s having allowed France to use its airspace in the attacks in Mali. And as Syria’s civil war has brought jihadis on the run, an Islamist war against France in the Sahel region of Africa could do the same.

  • shattered

    Normally I’d say look for “hot summer” but those French Foreign Legion troops can handle most anything.

  • scutum

    Malian’s; coming soon to a neighborhood near you.

    • Integration Anxiety

      Are Malians distant cousins of So-Malians? About 2,500 miles away, as one is in West Africa & the other is in Eastern Africa, but the mentality suggests they might as well be next door neighbors.

  • islam blackness

    Plenty of jihadist muslims in America including the African muslim in the WH who so far has done nothing about Benghazi since all four killed were white Americans. If you were to mix the Black Race and and the Islamic religion, the result is a continent called Africa or a city like Chicago..