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Sahel Blog on AQIM in Mauritania

July 27, 2009
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Just pointing you that way. My comment: I don’t see any link to the presidentials. Abdelaziz was in power before the elections, and he knew he would be in power after the elections. Anti-AQ work runs independently of all that, and if it didn’t (i.e. he tried to use anti-terrorism cooperation to extort political/economical support) he would soon face all hell from the US, France, Algeria, etc.

Will be interesting to hear what they can torture out of the suspects though. What I’m most curious about is whether this was more of a planned strike or more of a spontaneous sympathizers’ thing. The level of organization of AQIM cells in Mauritania seemed to be pretty low in earlier attacks, and it would also be revealing to hear which way connections run — through what Algerian AQIM outfit they connect to the larger body.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. July 27, 2009 19:13

    Thanks for the commentary on my post, and there may be more agreement than disagreement here. Perhaps I went too far in positing a link between Abdelaziz’s rhetoric on terrorism and these arrests, but the timing did seem significant to me. I don’t know that Abdelaziz is trying to “extort” support from the US so much as he may be trying to present himself as a credible ally/partner.

    As for the planned strike vs. sympathizers issue, it’s never been clear to me. There isn’t really enough evidence to decide, but I lean toward the suspicion that Leggett’s attackers were sympathizers, or even just common criminals. They tried to kidnap him and failed, and then AQIM’s statement after the fact suggested that murder was the objective from the beginning. That never added up for me.

  2. July 27, 2009 19:46

    On Abdelaziz, I suppose it could be strategically timed if it turns out these guys are innocent and just picked up for political effect. If they are the actual perpetrators, on the other hand, I don’t see him taking the risk of waiting until after the elections. Not that I entirely rule it out either, of course, but there’s nothing to indicate it and it seems much less likely.

    On the Leggett murder and the AQIM statement, I’ll try to find a copy and actually read it before I comment further…

    Btw, you run a very good blog.

  3. July 27, 2009 20:19

    OK, that wasn’t so hard after all. Here‘s a translation in PDF.

    1.) So, yes, they claim responsibility for it as an assassination, which witness reports said it wasn’t. Assuming the latter were correctly reported and credible (they may not be), I guess they’re just trying to re-spin it as a successful elimination of a Christian agent rather than a botched kidnapping turned desperate murder, and I can see why. On actual perpetrators, I assume they would be careful claiming credit for something that they didn’t know was related to them (if it then turned out to be some random criminal gang, that would be very embarrassing), but it’s all publicly available info in the statement, so who knows.

    2.) The claim doesn’t include any mention of which specific emir/gang in AQIM deserved credit, on the other hand. AQIM is not monolithic, and even the southern branch which presumably runs Mauritania is factionalized. The group closest to Mauritania (in N. Mali) nowadays seems to be headed by Abdelhamid Abu Zeid (of the Mauritanian army attacks), although Belmokhtar is perhaps still the top guy, at least nominally. Anyway, it seems the statement was originally read by a Salah Abu Mohamed, meaning this guy; more here. That’s the same man who announced they were holding the Austrians last year.

    • Tidinit permalink
      October 24, 2009 09:11

      On Abdulhamid Abu Zeid: that group also tried to have El Para released that some people say is an agent of the DRS ..

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  1. Sahel Blog on AQIM in Mauritania « Maghreb Politics Review | algertoday

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