Mr. Gearon is a professorial lecturer at Johns Hopkins (SAIS), a senior fellow at the Middle East Policy Council, and co-founder and president of The Siwa Group, a specialist Middle East consultancy firm. He is the author of The Sahara: A Cultural History (Oxford University Press, 2011).
There is a strategic connection between Mali and the Middle East: The January 2013 attack by an al-Qaeda splinter group against the In Amenas gas plant in Algeria;1 the looting of Libyan arms in the summer of 2011;2 recruitment to violent extremist groups among refugees from the Western Sahara;3 trans-Saharan smuggling of drugs and other illicit trade;4 and the promulgation of radical Islamism across North, Saharan and Sahelian Africa, allegedly financed in part by backers from Gulf countries such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar.5
Links between Mali and those countries typically considered part of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) must not be thought of as modern phenomena, mere by-products of the so-called Arab Spring.6 Economic, social and religious ties among the Levant, the Arabian Peninsula, Mediterranean North Africa, the Sahara and the Sahel — that southernmost band of the Sahara where the desert gives way to the sown — have been in place for centuries, predating Islam.7 Geographically, too, the regions are connected. In spite of its vastness, encompassing an area larger than the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii,8 the Sahara has always been a bridge, rather than a barrier, to movement. Those living there have acted as intermediaries between the people to the north and south.9
Neat lines of demarcation rarely, if ever, exist between one area of the world and the next. Egypt is a prime example, variously falling between the cracks that separate thinking about Africa, North Africa, and the Middle East.10 Mali is another good example, occupying that portion of a Venn diagram where the Sahara, Sahel and West Africa overlap. If al-Qaeda and other criminal groups do not compartmentalize their thinking and planning to region-specific operations, we certainly cannot afford to.
Conquered and partially occupied at the end of the nineteenth century,11 Mali became part of French Sudan, one of eight colonial entities that together made up French West Africa. Broadly speaking, since before independence in June 1960,12 those from the north of Mali have tended to see themselves as largely excluded or neglected in matters of national planning and investment. The climatic divide, between the arid north and semi-arid and tropical south, is a good rough guide as to where this north-south division is generally drawn. While the grievances of those from the north may have credence, the thinly populated Saharan north is unlikely to ever have as much influence as the south. The fact that there has never been a head of state from the north, for example, may simply reflect demographic reality rather than some sinister conspiracy to marginalize the north.
Making up approximately 10 percent of the national population,13 the Tuareg are a minority even in their northern homeland. In spite — or perhaps because — of this minority status, elements within Tuareg society have periodically campaigned, with violence and otherwise, for autonomy or independence since 1960.14 In late 2011, the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) was formed,15 the latest in a succession of secular, Tuareg nationalist secessionist groups: a number of the MNLA were also prominent in the uprisings of the 1990s and 2000s.16 Over the course of the 2011 Libyan civil war, Malians — Tuareg and non-Tuareg — fought for both Qadhafi and the National Transitional Council.17
After the end of the Qadhafi regime, the foundation of the MNLA was in part prompted by the numbers of returning Tuareg18 — often heavily-armed — who, in spite of being on opposite sides in the Libyan war, united to fight against the Malian authorities for an independent Tuareg state (Azawad, in Mali). The March 2012 coup in Bamako was led by an army officer, Captain Amadou Sanogo,19 as a protest against the president's failure to quash the MNLA-led uprising. Ironically, rather than proving to be a solution to the problem, Sanogo's coup added to the unrest, and the MNLA, who had since allied with a radical Islamist group called Ansar Din,20 were able to overrun the generally weak Malian Army. Swiftly taking control of the country's north, Ansar Din declared the independent state of Azawad,21 quickly forcing aside the MNLA22 and holding open the door for al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and others.
AL-QAEDA IN THE ISLAMIC MAGHREB (AQIM)
The roots of AQIM are in the Algeria of the 1990s, an internecine decade that saw 100,000 or more killed. Originally formed in 1998 as the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC),23 the organization emerged in turn from the Armed Islamic Group (GIA) and adopted the al-Qaeda tag in 2007,24 in a rebranding exercise that capitalized on one the world's most famous names. AQIM's origins are reflected in the group's predominantly Algerian membership, although other, non-Algerian, Saharan populations are among their numbers, including contingents of Arabs and Tuareg from northern Mali.25
AQIM's ostensible aim is the overthrow of the government of Algeria,26 to be replaced by what they envision as a "pure" Islamist state. In recent years, Algerian security forces have had a number of successes against AQIM in its traditional heartland, but the group's range has long spread beyond the borders of Algeria.27 Capitalizing on the next-to-impossible task of effectively securing national borders in the Sahara, AQIM has been active in one form or another in Libya,28 Tunisia,29 Mauritania,30 Niger31 and, most obviously and most recently, Mali. The collapse of the state in northern Mali provided the group with a golden opportunity, which they seized quickly by moving to occupy the area. More used to smuggling than governing, after it imposed a brutal regime in those territories it controlled, the group fell afoul of the local population,32 who resented both their cruelty and criticism of the locals for not being Islamic enough. Unsurprisingly, they failed to recruit significant numbers of locals to their cause.
While unsuccessful in northern Mali, AQIM is now thought to be enlisting young men from the refugee camps in Tindouf,33 in western Algeria. These more or less permanent camps holding thousands of Sahrawi people — exiles from Western Sahara — have been growing since they were established more than 20 years ago, the result of a colonial-era hangover.34 The failure of the international community to help Morocco and Western Sahara resolve the ongoing territorial dispute is a continuing source of simmering discontent and regional instability. Backed by the Algerian government, elements of the Sahrawi in Tindouf are worried that this long-standing support is being cut back,35 producing a potentially fertile recruiting ground among the desperate and disenfranchized. The 2011 kidnapping by the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJWA), an AQIM splinter group, of three foreign aid workers36 from a Polisario-run refugee camp is just one sign of increased insecurity.
In spite of AQIM's declared ambition of establishing an "Islamic state" in the Maghreb, the vast majority of their activities are best described as criminal:37 armed attacks, kidnapping and smuggling. A global, multi-billion-dollar concern, in those areas of the Sahara where AQIM is active, smuggling rackets involve everything from cigarettes from the United States and West Africa, cocaine from Latin America, hashish from Morocco and humans, usually economic refugees migrating north, away from sub-Saharan Africa, hoping to reach the Mediterranean coast and then Europe.38 Although not directly active in human trafficking, AQIM extracts "tribute" in exchange for safe passage from those who are crossing what AQIM considers its patch.
Since 2003, AQIM has also been active in the kidnap-for-ransom business,39 the most lucrative of its criminal activities. Incidents attributed to or claimed by AQIM have occurred in Algeria, Tunisia, Mali and Niger, with both individuals and groups being taken. Europeans — and North Americans if any could be found in the Sahara — are most often targeted, as they command the highest ransoms. While impossible to put an accurate figure on their net receipts, estimates for the past decade range from $40 million to $90 million,40 from foreign governments and private sources.
Like its general membership, the leadership of AQIM is largely Algerian, including Abu Musab Abdel Wadoud, a.k.a. Abdelmalek Droukdel (b.1970), Abdelhamid Abou Zeid (1965-2013), and Mokhtar Belmokhtar (b.1972).41 Before he was killed by Chadian troops fighting with the French-led force in Mali, Abou Zeid was the successful candidate in an AQIM leadership bid, which saw the loser, Belmokhtar, quit AQIM in a fit of pique and establish his own group. It was this AQIM splinter group, the Masked Brigade, also known as Those Who Sign Their Names in Blood, that was responsible for the January 2013 attack against the In Amenas gas plant in Algeria.42 By the time Algerian security forces had retaken the plant, 40 hostages and 30 hostage takers were dead.43
Belmokhtar's monikers include the Uncatchable, the One-Eyed, and Mr. Marlboro, the last in recognition of his extensive career as a smuggler of cigarettes and other contraband.44 Claims that he, too, was killed by Chadian troops in March 2013 have not been independently verified;45 they seem less likely as time passes.
Like AQIM, Ansar Din (Defenders of the Faith, or Religion, i.e. Islam) is a radical Islamist and staunchly anti-Sufi group. Although the group was only formally constituted in late 2011,46 Ansar Din's leadership has been active in the region for decades. Its head is Iyad Ag Ghaly, also Ghali (b. c.1954), a Malian Tuareg of the traditionally dominant Ifogha tribe who has been involved in Tuareg uprisings since the 1980s.47 Nicknamed the Strategist, it was Ghaly's failure to win a leadership bid for the Tuareg Kel Adagh confederacy that pushed him to found his own group.48
Declaring its goal as the overthrow of any government sitting in Bamako, Ansar Din would impose its own interpretation of Islamic, or sharia, law across the whole of Mali. Thwarted in its early grandiose ambitions, the group indicated in a January 2013 statement on a website connected to it that it had lowered its sights to cover just Mali's three northern provinces.49 It would, therefore, appear that Ansar Din is now more in line with MNLA's territorial ambitions, while still being far from it in political vision, with the MNLA pursuing a secular Tuareg state and Ansar Din a theocracy.
Like Ghaly, Ansar Din's membership is almost exclusively Tuareg from the Ifogha tribe.50 Many Ansar Din members are also deserters from the Malian army51 and thus, by Malian standards, militarily well trained. In keeping with the standard marks of contemporary Islamist groups, Ansar Din members tend to wear their beards long. They have adopted the black banner as their flag, upon which the shahada, or Islamic profession of faith, is typically inscribed: "There is no God but God, Muhammad is the messenger of God."
Suspicions about logistical links with AQIM were raised soon after Ansar Din,52 seemingly rose from nowhere to become, almost overnight, the most powerful armed group in northern Mali. Operational ties have since been proven,53 although these are ad hoc; elements within the two organizations have fought each other in 2012-13 as often as they have cooperated. Unlike al-Qaeda, Ansar Din is happy to remain a local operation, with no ambitions for global jihad. Ansar Din does not even appear to be interested in working with Islamist groups beyond Mali's own borders, except to make use of possible safe havens in Mauritania, northern Niger and southern Algeria. Before the French chased them away, Ansar Din was most active in Kidal and the south of Timbuktu Province, in and around the city of Timbuktu itself.54
The Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJWA, also MOJWA and MUJAO, with "Unity" for "Oneness" and "West" replaced by the French "Ouest"), was formed in October 2011 and represents a further splintering of AQIM.55 MUJWA broke away because a number of AQIM's Mauritanian and Malian members felt alienated and underappreciated due to the group's focus on Algeria and the Maghreb,56 in keeping with its Algerian roots. While MUJWA has released videos in support of and praising Osama bin Laden and other central al-Qaeda figures, it has also been keen to highlight its admiration for nineteenth-century West African figures.57
The group's leader is a Mauritanian, Hamada Ould Mohamed Kheirou, a.k.a. Abu Qumqum;58 at least one of his deputies and the group's chief of staff, Omar Ould Hamaha, is a Malian Arab-Tuareg. Also known as Red Beard from his use of henna, and Hakka after the French pronunciation of AK, as in AK-47, Hamaha was Belmokhtar's deputy before he split from AQIM.59 MUJWA's members, like its leadership, come from a range of regional backgrounds, including Mali, Mauritania, Algeria and Niger. It is a far more international outfit than the Algeria-centric AQIM. As with Ansar Din, many MUJWA members are deserters from the Malian army who in many cases brought their government-issued light weapons with them.
In spite of its eponymous claims to spread jihad through West Africa, thus far MUJWA's activities have been limited to Algeria and northern Mali. Its first advertised post-founding attack was the October 2011 abduction of an Italian and two Spanish aid workers from a refugee camp in Tindouf, Algeria.60 Having demanded a ransom of €30 million (then $41 million), MUJWA released its hostages in July 2012, after receiving payment of €13.5 million ($18 million).61 In common with AQIM and other of its splinter groups, MUJWA members are also active in drug smuggling. Authorities in Mali and Mauritania have issued arrest warrants for a number of the group's senior leadership on drug-smuggling charges.
A THREAT TO THE UNITED STATES?
Whether events in Mali are a threat to the United States depends on what one means by threat. Here, there are three interrelated areas of concern: transnational crime, political instability and terrorism.
While not grabbing headlines in the way terrorism does, in many ways transnational crime poses just as serious a threat, and it is an area that security and intelligence agencies in the United States and Europe take most seriously.62 Smuggled goods can take many routes before arriving in the Sahara. Once in North Africa, the trans-Saharan and transcontinental routes they take are usually long. Both for the distances traveled and the multiple starting points, these journeys are hard to trace with much accuracy. Limited resources available for law enforcement and the difficulty of crossborder, transoceanic cooperation do not make things easier. Cigarettes made in Richmond, Virginia, cocaine produced in Columbia, and hashish from Morocco all feature in the global outlook of twenty-first century smugglers.63
Transnational smuggling is not the only driver of political instability in Mali and elsewhere in the Sahel. Corruption in Mali is rife; corrupt officials are often directly invested in the profitable, region-wide criminal networks. The evidence is clear, both from the extravagant lifestyles of certain officials and the periodic release and pardoning of prisoners arrested for involvement in smuggling, in spite of good evidence and sound convictions.64 Corrupt border officials, policemen and soldiers who are in the pay of criminal networks, whether at the country's borders, in desert towns or in Bamako, all help to increase criminality, which feeds regional insecurity. The link between transnational crime and political instability is well established; it is an area that likewise arouses the interest and concern of Western law enforcement agencies.65
Sometimes there is no line between criminal activity and terrorism. While AQIM has launched a number of terrorist attacks, in many cases these attacks have been driven by the internal dynamics of the organization, and in important ways represent a break from its more mundane criminal work. For example, correspondence between al-Qaeda central and AQIM found in Timbuktu suggests that the In Amenas gas-plant attack was planned and carried out by Those Who Sign Their Names in Blood, Belmokhtar's splinter group, in response to stinging criticism that it had failed to do anything dramatic in the region of late.66
The threat of a terrorist attack being carried out in the United States by AQIM or any of the other groups currently operating in the region is slight. Such an attack against the United States would likely be on a small scale, limited by the support network required to plan, coordinate and successfully launch a sizable attack, networks that AQIM et al. in northern Mali just do not appear to enjoy. In Europe, the threat of an attack from an individual or small cell is greater because of sizable diasporas from Algeria, Mali, Mauritania and their neighbours.67 North and West African immigrants in Europe, legal or otherwise, do not fare well; limited opportunities for employment lead many down a path of despair and poverty, making them ideal targets for recruitment officers from AQIM and others.
While AQIM and its splinter groups have thus far tended to focus on North-Saharan-Sahelian West Africa, disruption to their usual territory has already pushed them to work further afield. Dislodged, however temporarily, from Mali, they have already launched attacks in Niger and beyond.68 So, more likely than an attack on U.S. soil is an increased number of attacks against Western interests in the region, including oil and gas facilities, embassies and consulates, and other relatively soft targets.
WHAT TO DO?
The size and location of Mali pose serious problems for U.S. and Western policy in general. Not only is it physically remote; even after the collapse of the state in the country's north, it barely figures in foreign-policy planning. As mentioned above, at roughly the same size as the United States, the Sahara is never going to be easy to police, even when the promised 12,600 troops from the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) arrive.69 It should not, however, be abandoned as an impossible undertaking. The challenges are real, the security threats from regional instability serious, and the resources very limited. For these reasons, we must adopt solutions that are tailored to local conditions and realistic in their ambition. Doing nothing is not a long-term strategic option; as bad as things are now, they can always get worse. The following are four practical initial steps.
Encourage National Dialogue
Resentments have been simmering among segments of Malian society since before independence but have never been effectively addressed.70 A sense of exclusion has typically been stronger among certain peoples in northern Mali, in part because of the geographical void between the country's north and the capital. The failure to address these often-legitimate concerns by successive administrations in Bamako is a cycle that will be repeated until it is broken.71 One obvious stumbling block to a sincere process of national reconciliation is the rhetorical trap the two sides have fallen into. Bamako says it will never talk to anyone calling for autonomy or independence, but it often does too little to make the north feel as though it is an equal and respected part of the country. In the north, deep-rooted distrust of Bamako means few are prepared to consider any utterances from the capital to be sincere. Regardless, as things stand, the government has little de facto control in the north.
Periodic outbreaks of violence are destabilizing and wasteful, and they do little besides produce corpses and renew old grievances. This needs to be replaced with a genuine attempt by all parties to start talks, without preconditions. They must address not just the grievances of those segments of Tuareg who have been involved in the recent uprising, but the Tuareg and members of other ethnic groups who have not seen fit to fight, but nonetheless feel excluded and voiceless in their own country.
Attack Kidnappers' Funding
Terrorist groups in the past decade have become very wealthy through kidnapping for ransom. Whether AQIM, its splinter groups or other, nonideological, criminal gangs, the Sahara is increasingly out of bounds to foreign workers, travelers and NGOs. It is also increasingly dangerous for the region's security forces. With an increase in kidnappings across the region, including Algeria, Tunisia, Niger, Mali and Mauritania, it is essential that European governments cease paying ransom. As tragic as the murder of the British national Edwin Dwyer72 was, refusing to pay ransom is an important step in reducing the income and, thus, effectiveness of those terrorists who murdered him.
Estimates vary wildly as to how much cash these violent extremists groups have netted but, as we saw above, since 2007 it is known to be more than $40 million. This money goes directly to supporting existing criminal networks and creating new ones. It is turning much of the Sahara into a no-go zone, destroying legitimate local economies, keeping tourists away, and making energy companies and other foreign investors think twice before coming to the region.73 Even worse for long-term prospects, certain criminal networks now have enough cash at their disposal to destroy any chance of good governance in the countries of the Sahel and Sahara. Whether for suit-wearing, desk-bound officials or men in uniform supposedly protecting the borders, the criminals write payments for bribes into their business plans as a matter of course.74
Concomitant with not paying ransoms, the international community should increase cooperation with and, more important, between national security organizations in the region. The question of sovereignty is an important one, but if regional governments could be persuaded to work together more closely, perhaps a specialized, anti-terrorism force with authority to operate transnationally could be created. Locating and engaging with kidnappers as soon as possible after a kidnapping is critical. If this were done more efficiently and more forcefully, the perception of kidnapping could be altered from an easy funding source to a high-risk activity with a low chance of success.
Learn About Mali
I heard a self-professed expert being asked what languages are spoken in Mali. "French" was his one-word reply. At least 50 languages are spoken in Mali,75 13 of which have official status. Although kept as the country's official language after independence, French, by most estimates, is actually spoken by a mere 21 percent of Malians.76 The population is drawn from six major ethnic groups,77 within which one can find countless other self-identifying groups that ignore convenient labels such as Tuareg or Songhai. Each group is different, with histories, agendas and problems — real and imagined — that exist in the local context.
One cannot overestimate the importance of ethnic, cultural and linguistic divisions, but such differences are not necessarily problematic or permanent.78 Loyalties shift at the state and substate level, within government and among their political opponents, as well as among branches of the Malian armed forces and criminal and terrorist groups. Nor should one imagine there is a single opinion or group that speaks for all Tuareg, Arabs, Bambara, Fula or Songhai. Northern Mali, like the country as a whole, is a complex mix in which the West is unlikely to invest the time and money needed to properly understand. But even with a narrow focus such as counterterrorism, it is important to make greater efforts to understand the local cultures. This will benefit both short- and long-term goals. But, to do it, we must keep asking questions and really listen to the answers.
Adopt Local Solutions
Mali's problems are driven by local circumstances and so too should be any solutions if they are to have any chance at success. The international community should provide assistance in any recovery plans, but local actors have a better understanding of the many interconnected issues involved, and are best situated to secure a lasting peace. At the same time, the West needs to be smart about its development assistance and avoid reinforcing the north-south divide through an unbalanced distribution of aid.
There are numerous small-scale, practical projects that Malians have said they want help implementing. Repairing infrastructure destroyed in the fighting does not require massive investment: there was not a great deal of sophisticated infrastructure in northern Mali to start with. For example, six months after the Islamists were forced from Timbuktu, the mayor's office was still without electricity for most of the day, retarding efforts to restore local government, and the town's banks and gasoline stations had still to reopen.79
There have been a number of serious, climate-driven food crises in the Sahel in the past decade. If we are to avoid a human-made crisis next year, it is essential to attempt to contact those farmers who fled the fighting. Providing security will encourage them to go home, both to gather this year's harvest and plant for next year. Further afield, improving the lot of people in refugee camps, both those set up since the crisis in northern Mali began and the decades-old settlements in Algeria, is an important task, morally and practically. Often ignored by governments, discontented refugees, especially young men, are easy targets for recruitment by extremist groups, whose promise of money and escape are hard to resist.
ONE DESERT, MANY PARTS
Sahara is the Arabic word for desert.80 From space, it may look like one unbroken desiccated yellow band stretching between the Atlantic Ocean and the Red Sea, interrupted only by the Nile, but the reality on the ground is much more complex. And while we can now get accurate pictures of the geography of the desert from space, understanding and mapping the human landscapes are far more important, and require time spent on the ground.
A long-term approach is needed for Mali, one that has viable economic planning for the whole country at its center. A degree of prosperity needs to be fostered in the region to help undermine the alternative criminal economy that benefits the violent extremists who grab headlines, such as AQIM, and corrupt officials at all levels of government, both local and national.81 Opportunities for anything beyond mere subsistence, which agriculture on a single-family plot in a drought-prone region offers, are extremely limited. Where such opportunities exist, they increasingly revolve around some form of criminal activity.82
One must also think very carefully about whom one is dealing with. It is essential to know the local actors, their interests, connections, supporters and rivals. Time spent learning the local cultures — ethnic, linguistic, religious, familial and political — is time well spent. It only makes sense to approach the problem after one has a thorough understanding of the situational background. Life in northern Mali is as tough as it gets. This slim margin of survival makes any incentive incredibly powerful. These incentives can be used to fuel criminality and terrorism or to foster political stability and economic growth. We have the power to tip the balance.
Instability has increased exponentially across the Greater Middle East in the wake of recent events. After nearly three years of uprisings, revolutions and coups, the close ties between what is happening in North Africa and the Middle East and across the wider Sahara and Sahel are all too clear. The interest among Western nations in counterterrorism programs is obvious and important, but such efforts should not be allowed to dominate the agenda. Terrorism is far from the sole concern of the majority of people living in the Sahara and Sahel. As the Tuareg proverb says, "A good husband is one who brings enough water."83
1 Jemal Oumar, "In Amenas Attack Magnifies Belmokhtar, AQIM Rift," Maghrebia, February 2, 2013, accessed July 10, 2013, http://magharebia.com/en_GB/articles/awi/features/2013/02/07/feature-02.
2 "Report of the Secretary-General on the Situation in Mali," U.N. doc. S/2012/894, November 29, 2012.
3 Anouar Boukhars, "Simmering Discontent in the Western Sahara," in Perilous Desert: Insecurity in the Sahara, eds. Frederic Wehery and Anouar Boukhars (Carnegie Endowment for Peace, 2013), 165-183.
4 Alexis Arieff, "Algeria: Current Issues," for Congressional Research Service, January 18, 2013, accessed July 8, 2013, http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/row/RS21532.pdf.
5 Lina Khatib, "Qatar's Foreign Policy: The Limits of Pragmatism," International Affairs 89, no. 2 (2013): 417-431; and "Le Qatar accusé de financer les groupes islamistes de l'Azawad," Jeune Afrique, June 6, 2012.
6 Caitriona Dowd and Clionadh Raleigh, "The Myth of Global Islamic Terrorism and Local Conflict in Mali and the Sahel," African Affairs 112, issue 448 (2013): 1-12.
7 Bernard Lewis, The Arabs in History (Oxford University Press, 1992), 95.
8 Eamonn Gearon, The Sahara: A Cultural History (Oxford University Press, 2011), xii.
9 E.W. Bovill, The Golden Trade of the Moors (Oxford University Press, 1958).
10 Egypt is also the only country not covered by the Germany-based U.S. Africa Command, or AFRICOM, coming instead under Central Command (CENTCOM), which stretches away to the northeast, as far as Kazakhstan.
11 Gearon, The Sahara, 117.
12 Gearon, The Sahara, 142.
13 Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook, 2013, accessed July 10, 2013, https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ml.html.
14 Tuareg uprisings have occurred in Mali in 1894 and in northern Niger and Mali in 1916-1917, 1962-1964, 1990-1995, and 2007-2009.
15 Siwa Group, Understanding Northern Mali: Terrorists, Secessionists and Criminals, ed. Eamonn Gearon (Washington, DC, 2013), accessed July 8, 2013, www.thesiwagroup.com.
21 "Mali Tuareg Rebels Declare Independence in the North," BBC, April 6, 2012, accessed July 10, 2013, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-17635437.
22 Siwa Group, 2013.
28 Arieff, "Algeria: Current Issues."
29 Sherelle Jacobs, "Shadow of Jihadi Safe Haven Hangs over Tunisia, Algeria," World Politics Review, May 21, 2013, accessed July 6, 2013, http://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/articles/12964/shadow-of-jihadi-safe….
30 Alex Thurston, "On Recent Clashes between Mauritania and AQIM," July 6, 2011, accessed July 6, 2013, http://sahelblog.wordpress.com/2011/07/06/on-recent-clashes-between-mau….
31 Modibo Goit, "West Africa's Growing Terrorist Threat: Confronting AQIM's Sahelian Strategy," African Security Brief, 11 (2011), accessed July 6, 2013, http://www.ndu.edu/press/lib/pdf/Africa-Security-Brief/ASB-11.pdf.
32 Siwa Group, 2013.
33 Boukhars, Perilous Desert, 2013.
36 "Two Spaniards, Italian Kidnapped from Algeria Camp," AFP, October 23, 2011, accessed July 7, 2013, http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5j1sP1UiDbJNcKv5vctvl….
37 The Siwa Group, 2013.
38 Lacher, Perilous Desert, 2013.
39 The Siwa Group, 2013.
40 Lacher, Perilous Desert, 2013.
41 Siwa Group, 2013.
42 "Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb," Council on Foreign Relations, January 24, 2013, accessed July 4, 2013, http://www.cfr.org/world/al-qaeda-islamic-maghreb-aqim/p12717.
43 "In Amenas: Timeline of Four-Day Siege in Algeria," Guardian, January 25, 2013, accessed July 7, 2013, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jan/25/in-amenas-timeline-siege-al….
44 The Siwa Group, 2013.
45 "'This is the Eighth Time' – Caution Greets Reports of Mokhtar Belmokhtar's Death," Independent, March 3, 2013, accessed July 5, 2013, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/this-is-the-eighth-time-….
46 Siwa Group, 2013.
49 Ansar al-Mujahadeen, Press Release, January 24, 2013, accessed May 5, 2013, http://ansar1.info/showthread.php?t=45333.
50 Siwa Group, 2013.
53 "Qaeda Leader Tells Fighters to Support Mali Rebels," Reuters, May 25, 2013, accessed July 3, 2013, http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/05/25/ozatp-mali-qaeda-idAFJOE84O00….
54 Siwa Group, 2013.
57 "New Qaeda Spin-Off Threatens West Africa," AhramOnline, December 22, 2011, accessed July 6, 2013, http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/2/9/29968/World/International/N….
58 Siwa Group, 2013.
60 "West Seeks to Curb al-Qaida Kidnappings," UPI, November 7, 2012, accessed June 25, 2013, http://www.upi.com/Top_News/Special/2012/11/07/West-seeks-to-curb-al-Qa….
61 Chris Scott, "Sahara Kidnappings Map," Sahara Overland, June 2013, accessed July 7, 2013, http://www.sahara-overland.com/kidnapping/index.htm.
62 "West Seeks to Curb al-Qaida Kidnappings," 2012.
63 Siwa Group, 2013.
64 Wolfram Lacher, "Organized Crime and Conflict in the Sahel-Sahara Region," in Perilous Desert: Insecurity in the Sahara, eds. Frederic Wehery and Anouar Boukhars (Carnegie Endowment for Peace, 2013), 61-85.
65 Siwa Group, 2013.
67 "France Raises Terror Threat Level after Driving Back Mali Rebels," Haaretz, 2013, accessed July 1, 2013, http://www.haaretz.com/news/world/france-raises-terror-threat-level-aft….
68 The Siwa Group, 2013.
69 "International Assistance Force for Mali Transformed into UN Peacekeeping Mission," UN News Centre, accessed July 5, 2013, https://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=45310&Cr=+Mali+&Cr1=.
70 The Siwa Group, 2013.
72 "British Hostage Edwin Dyer 'Killed by al-Qaida'," BBC, June 3, 2009, accessed July 4, 2013, http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2009/jun/03/edwin-dyer-hostage-killed-al-q….
73 The Siwa Group, 2013.
74 Lacher, Perilous Desert, 2013.
75 Siwa Group, 2013.
76 Anne Lafage, "French in Africa," French Today: Language in Its Social Context, ed. Carol Sanders, (Cambridge University Press, 1993), 217.
77 Siwa Group, 2013.
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83 Gearon, The Sahara, 239.