Counter-Terrorism: The Mysteries of the Sahel


February17, 2007: American Special Forces troops are assisting in the search for al Qaeda camps believed set up in remote areas of Mauritania, Mali, Niger and Chad. These countries are in the the Sahel. a semi-desert area just south of the Sahara. Al Qaeda activity has been reported in this region for over four years, but only a few hundred al Qaeda people have actually been found. Some Islamic terrorists have been chased down and captured in the region. European Islamic radicals tend to talk about these Sahel facilities among themselves, even when captured. But few credible Europe based Islamic terrorists, who have actually visited the Sahel camps, have been found. In other words, there are al Qaeda camped out in the Sahel, but not in the number their European fans believe. The reality is that outsiders, even hard core Islamic radicals, have a hard time making friends, or putting down roots, in the Sahel. This is a rough neighborhood, where life is hard and resources limited.

Meanwhile, the United States is setting up an "Africa Command" (AFRICOM), similar in organization to other commands (Central, for the Middle East, and South, for Latin America). AFRICOM will coordinate all American military operations in African. Before, those operations were coordinated between two commands (the one covering Europe and the one covering Latin America). The establishment of AFRICOM means more money for counter-terror operations in Africa, and more long range projects.


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