15 februar, 2007

Al Qaida vokser i Sahel-bæltet

I Sahel-bæltet lige syd for Sahara er al Qaida begyndt at slå rødder:

According to the Spanish newspaper El País, al-Qaida's organisational strengths are growing, with movable training camps in place in the "scrub country" of the Sahel, the thinly populated, semi-arid region that includes parts of southern Algeria, Mauritania, Mali and Niger. The paper said a Moroccan activist arrested last week in Tarragona had been recruiting jihadis in Spain and sending them to the Sahel for training. That raised the spectre of more attacks on European soil. France is especially jumpy as presidential elections approach.

Alarmed that the area could become an Afghanistan-style "safe haven", the US has created the 10-country Trans-Sahara Counter-Terrorism Partnership and allocated $80m (£41m) for arms, training and intelligence-sharing. The US general William Ward told military chiefs meeting in Senegal this month they shared a "common goal of reducing the ability of violent extremists to harm or kill innocent civilians".

Voice of America har mere:

"We have in recent months evidence of groups from one or other countries in the region using third party countries to enter into and set up bases," Pham said. "The class example being the Algerian group, the Salafist Group for Call and Combat, which has been operating several bases in Mauritania for example."

He says a recent court case in Nigeria gives more concrete proof of the threat, also involving Mauritania.

"A Nigerian received money from Sudan, and that part of the record is fairly well established, to send young Nigerians from radical groups in northern Nigeria to Mauritania, specifically for terrorist training," Pham says. ...

Many rebel movements in West Africa, including in Chad, the Central African Republic, Mali, and Ivory Coast say they are fighting to improve the conditions of local populations, rather than advocating a global cause.

Feniou also says some rebel groups like the Tuareg militants in Mali actually ally themselves with their government against Islamic extremists.

"Tuaregs in Mali they have actually sided with the Malian government to fight the Algerian-based GSPC which is overtly linked to al-Qaida, so I think it is not that simple," Feniou said.

Hidtil er kampene mellem Tuaregerne og GSPC dog forholdsvist små (Reuters-artikel fra 2. november):

Tuareg fighters clashed with the GSPC near the Algerian border in September killing a senior commander close to Mokhtar Belmokhtar, their leader in the southern Sahara who is viewed by U.S. military experts as a serious regional security threat.

The militant group responded with a revenge attack last week, ambushing Tuareg rebels near the village of Arouan, some 150 km (95 miles) from Kidal, and killing nine of them.

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