Saturday, February 13, 2016

Al-Qaeda Regaining Strength In Africa

by JASmius

Because ISIS is getting too gosh darned complacent, I guess:

Two high-profile strikes in West Africa since November by al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) could further strengthen the Islamic [jihadist] group, a U.S. commander for North and West Africa said.

AQIM, a [jihadist] group that emerged from the Algerian civil war in the 1990s and is now mostly north Mali-based, is emerging from a period of near dormancy marked by factional infighting.

The group, linked to veteran jihadist Mokhtar Belmokhtar, claimed two hotel sieges in the Mali and Burkina Faso capitals in November and January that killed dozens, including many Westerners, proving its ability to strike further south.

Some experts say the urban attacks, and a slew of recent propaganda, may be a bid to compete with ultra-hardline group the Islamic State, which now has a base in Libya.

"(The hotel attacks) raised the profile of the group and will help the group do a (few) things," said Colonel Bob Wilson, Third Special Forces Group Commander, in an interview with Reuters and the New York Times in Dakar this week.

"One, show that it's still relevant. Two, help it to recruit personnel and commit resources. And three, create the impetus to do more attacks like that," he said on a visit to Senegal during the annual U.S.-led 'Flintlock' counter-terror training programme in the Sahel region.

Maybe this is part of why ISIS is expected to spread beyond Libya to other African countries in the next year, echoing fears expressed by Niger and Chad to the south.  After all, the usurpers of "Original al Qaeda" don't want to be submarined in turn.  Kind of like if Obi-wan Kenobi had impaled Darth Vader in Episode IV instead of "becoming one with the Force".  Although it's still a better bet that they'll join forces against their common "infidel" prey.

The same cannot be said for the African countries they intend to overrun:

Wilson welcomed the creation of a regional task force last year to fight Nigeria's Boko Haram, which has pledged allegiance to ISIS and is blamed for fifteen thousand deaths.

But he said the countries involved - Nigeria, Chad, Niger, Cameroon and Benin - have yet to prove that they can work effectively together in joint operations and that a regional headquarters is still "nascent."

Which is Sanskrit for "non-existent".  And, most likely, "impossible".

I'd like to believe that the reason Colonel Wilson wasn't willing to comment on questions about Special Forces missions and airstrikes against ISIS's Libyan province is for purposes of operational security.  But who would I be kidding?

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