Mali: The Kids With Guns Just Do Not Get It

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March 16, 2015: The unexpected terror attack in the capital on the 7 th was apparently the work of Islamic terrorist leader Mokhtar Belmokhtar. These Islamic terrorists claimed the March 8 th attack was payback for the killing (by French troops) of a Belmokhtar lieutenant in December 2014. Belmokhtar is a well-known North African Islamic terrorist leader who is now believed to be based in southern Libya. He was the planner of the January 2013 natural gas facility attack in southern Algeria that got 37 workers killed.  Belmokhtar heads Islamic terrorist group Al Mourabitoun and claimed responsibility for the mid-2014 suicide bombing that killed a French soldier. Belmokhtar declared this attack was made to refute French claims that Islamic terrorists had been largely eliminated in northern Mali. The French claim was accurate and Al Mourabitoun has not been very active at all, anywhere in North Africa. But since mid-2014 there have been more attacks in the north, usually around Kidal and Al Mourabitoun, not local groups, were suspected. In early 2013 Belmokhtar had released a statement on the Internet announcing his return to al Qaeda. He had split from that organization in late 2012. Belmokhtar is believed to be operating from a base in southern Libya. Al Mourabitoun was formed in August 2013 when two Islamic terrorist factions merged. This new group was detected operating in northern Mali and Niger (where it had carried out several daring attacks, including a prison break in June and twin bombings in May 2013). Belmokhtar had a reputation for always escaping the many efforts to kill or capture him. Belmokhtar had been number two or three in AQIM (Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb) but formed his own splinter group in late 2012. The French and American pressure in the Sahel has left Belmokhtar short of cash and prospects, so returning to al Qaeda is a way to remedy those problems. Al Qaeda has always had access to more cash and other resources than most other terrorist organizations and that’s why it remains such a visible player among Islamic terrorists.

Meanwhile the peace deal worked out during months of negotiations in Algeria and Morocco is stalled because the negotiators from the northern separatist coalition agreed to a deal they have not been able to sell to all their followers. The separatists are still trying to work this out. One complicating factor is the many unemployed young men with guns who believe independence for the north will somehow bring jobs and prosperity. Others still believe the promises of Islamic terrorists who speak of an Islamic religious dictatorship that will fix everything. Most leaders in the north, especially the older tribal ones, know better and want peace, and the resulting ability to get aid in without spending so much on security. Peace would make it possible for locals and outsiders to invest in the north and revive the economy. All that seems too complicated to the kids with guns. The ceasefire agreed to on February 19th appears to be holding but there is still tension in the air.

March 13, 2015: In the capital police hunted down the two Islamic terrorists who killed five people on the 7th. Only one was in the apartment and he refused to surrender and was shot dead. Three of the police were wounded. Neighbors reported that the dead man and another man had been in the apartment for a few weeks. Both were light skinned northerners (Tuaregs or Arabs) who had shaved off their beards and hair.

March 8, 2015: In the north (Kidal) some 30 rockets and mortar shells were fired at a UN base, killing two civilians and a peacekeeper. Another eight peacekeepers were wounded.        

March 7, 2015: In the capital two masked Islamic terrorists attacked a nightclub with a grenade, then one went in and sought to shoot foreigners but quickly left, leaving two foreigners and three locals dead. As the two drove away they threw a grenade to discourage pursuit.

In the north two men were accused by local civilians of planning bombs for Islamic terrorists and preparing to detonate them. A mob formed and killed the two men.

March 6, 2015: The government has delayed national elections scheduled for April because continued unrest in the north has delayed voter registration up there. The plan is to hold these elections sometime before the end of October.

March 1, 2015: The government signed a peace treaty worked out with the Tuareg separatists in the north. But the Tuareg did not sign as they were supposed to and said they had to resolve differences within the separatist coalition before they could sign.

 

 

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