AQIM Updates, August 6

Yesterday I saw three interesting news reports about Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Here they are in case you missed them:

Reuters:

Al Qaeda fighters have fled western Mali following a bloody military offensive to dislodge them from the area, Malian security sources said on Friday.

A joint force involving around a thousand Malian and Mauritanian soldiers began a sweep through the border region in late June after reports that al Qaeda’s North African wing, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, was setting up new bases.

“The camps have been dislodged, including one that was heavily equipped, and the weapons stockpiles were dismantled,” a military official told Reuters, asking not to be named.

At least 27 people were killed in the joint offensive, including two Mauritanian soldiers, according to security sources, though AQIM claimed it killed 20 Mauritanian soldiers in a single clash in late June.

Magharebia:

Members of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) launched a new push to spread their violent ideology among residents of the Sahel in recent days, as the terror group seeks to recover from successive defeats by Mauritanian and Malian security forces.

Young Mauritanian Sidi Mohamed, a resident of Bassiknou, trades with the villages of northern Mali and has social ties to residents of the region. He told Magharebia that many of his relatives have run into al-Qaeda lectures while trading in Mali, particularly at weekly markets.

AP:

France’s leading judge in the fight against Islamist terrorism says al-Qaida’s North African arm has shown no ability to carry out attacks in Europe or elsewhere beyond its zone of operations.

Marc Trevidic has told The Associated Press in an interview that French officials “have seen nothing emerge as a significant foriegn operation in Europe” organized by Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb.

The Magharebia report was particularly interesting to me. Assuming all three reports are true, AQIM’s retreat from their bases is a triumph for Mauritanian forces, but the movement’s continued presence in remote areas of Mali is a challenge for that country’s government.

One thought on “AQIM Updates, August 6

  1. The Mauritanian and Mali militaries are certainly taking their job seriously, but they are only now embarking on a serious campaign against AQIM. The group’s heyday appears to be coming to an end now that it’s under greater pressure, necessitating adaption in its tactics and strategy. AQIM is wise to avoid battles with conventional forces (if that’s the plan), and we could see a lot more countermeasures (mobile bases) as both sides try to outmaneuver the other. This is just the beginning.

    Like Magharebia suggests, West African governments must counter AQ’s ideology with the same effort that they pursue military offensives. A primary emphasis on the Sahel’s non-military spheres would be ideal.

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