Mali – when and where does the backlash materialize?

Despite dire warnings widespread demonstrations against the French-/ECOWAS-intervention in Mali with Muslim groups all over the world protesting until now have not gained ground. Nonetheless there are regional effects that shed light on Jihadi-networks in Western Africa.

A current example is illustrated by a post on Al-Wasat that concentrates on Nigeria and the interface between groups fighting for influence in the country and their possible links to AQIM and terrorist networks in the Maghreb-region.

The following JPEG shows a UCINET-based visualization of terrorist group-interconnections and tracks the suspected links between Ansaru („Jama’atu Ansaril Muslimina fi Biladis Sudan„), a Boko-Haram splinter group, and terrorist incidents including kidnappings of Europeans in Nigeria, as discussed in the above-mentioned post.

The post delivers a quite detailled discussion on evidence for close ties with AQIM, e.g. by looking at the modus operandi of kidnappings carried out by Al Qaeda in the Maghreb (there is a least one kidnapping AQIM has claimed responsibility for that took place in Nigeria) and assumed Ansaru-activities in the country.

Conclusions still have to be taken circumspectively, as a paragraph on the handling of kidnappings by AQIM and Ansaru might illustrate: „Another interesting indication of possible links to AQIM is that (…) the negotiator handling talks for a ransom payment to free Lamolinara and McManus („a Briton and an Italian kidnapped May 2011 who died during a failed rescue attempt in March 2012″) was none other than Mustapha Ould Limam Chaffi, a Mauritanian opposition figure, (…) and negotiator who handled multiple AQIM hostage takings. However Chaffi came to be part of the negotiations (…), his presence bolsters the anecdotal evidence of certain ties between Ansaru, or at least factions of Boko Haram, and AQIM“ (source: see above).

Content-visualization of a recent Al-Wasat post liking Jihadist-groups and terrorist incidents

Content-visualization of a recent Al-Wasat post linking Jihadist-groups and terrorist incidents

Focussing again on the backlash-potential: in Nigeria regional effects have already surfaced, as Ansaru has claimed responsibility for an attack on a Nigerian army detachment heading for Mali on January 20.

„A January 29, 2013 report in the London-based daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi speaks of growing concerns that terrorists driven out of northern Mali may infiltrate North Africa and southern Europe. Citing European and North African sources, the daily states that the level of alert in North African Arab countries (Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Libya and Mauritania) and in some countries in Southern Europe, notably Spain, has been raised following the expulsion of jihadi elements from towns in northern Mali. Morocco’s military has reportedly gone on full alert, intensifying ground and aerial patrols to track the movement of terrorist, and Spain is closely monitoring border zones with Morocco and boats carrying immigrants, especially those arriving from Algeria and from the Canary Islands“ (Source: MEMRI Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor, February 2, 2013).

Update February 16. 2013: „On February 11, 2013, the Salafi-jihadi website Minbar Al-Tawhid Wal-Jihad published a fatwa by one of its leading clerics, Abu Mundhir Al-Shinqiti, in which he approved attacks on French embassies, encouraging jihadis to carry them out wherever they can. He also called upon them to respond to French intervention in Mali by attacking French interests, companies, and citizens everywhere. Al-Shinqiti explained that the Islamic laws regarding the immunity of emissaries do not apply to modern-day ambassadors. Furthermore, he claimed that French embassies were „dens of evil“ that strive to spread corruption in Muslim lands and to spy on the mujahideen and Islamists.“ (Source: JTTM, February 16, 2013).