Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Mali Army Chases GSPC Out Of Country

Agence France Presse reports that Mali has been successful in routing Al-Qaeda linked Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat or GSPC. The report makes no mention of where they were routed to. See also this nice background piece on Frontpagemag.com.

BAMAKO, June 9 (AFP)
The Malian army has chased out the last of a group of Islamic extremists who crossed into the country from northern neighbour Algeria last year, President Amadou Tomani Toure has told reporters.
Citing a report from the army, Toure said Tuesday at a press conference to mark the second anniversary of his election: "For the last three or four days, no more armed Islamic terrorists from the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) ... are in northern Mali."
The report said the army had "dismantled arms caches" built up by the radical group in Mali, Toure added.
The fight to break up Islamic extremist groups in Mali was being waged "in close collaboration with Mali's neighbours," he said, without giving details.
The Sahel desert country borders Algeria to the north, Niger to the east, Burkina Faso to the southeast, Ivory Coast to the south, Guinea to the southwest, and Senegal and Mauritania to the west.
A small group of GSPC fighters crossed into Mali from Algeria around one year ago, when they forced a group of European tourists kidnapped in southeastern Algeria to trek across the desert.
The tourists, most of whom were German, were eventually released in Mali, reportedly in exchange for a hefty ransom, allegedly paid by the German government.
The GSPC faction that kidnapped the tourists was led by GSPC number two Amari Saifi, better known as Abderrazak the Para.
In March, members of the group infiltrated Chad's northern Tibesti region from Niger, and clashed with the Chadian army.
The same month, Algeria, Chad, Mali and Niger stepped up cooperation in the fight against the GSPC, a source close to the Malian army said.
Some GSPC fighters, including Abderrazak, are said by security and diplomatic sources in the Chadian capital Ndjamena to have been captured by Chadian rebels in Tibesti. That information has been confirmed by the German federal prosecutor's office in Karlsruhe.
The Chadian rebels have said they are negotiating the possible transfer to Algeria of their captives with the Algiers government.
The GSPC is included on a US list of terror organisations said to be linked to the Al-Qaeda network of Saudi billionaire Osama bin Laden and is one of two movements waging an armed insurrection against Algeria's secular government.
Last year, the radical Islamic group kidnapped 32 Austrian, Dutch, German and Swiss tourists as they trekked in Algeria's southern Sahara desert, and held them for between three and six months. One, a German woman, died in captivity.

Again, I cannot stress enough the importance of the German government's paying of millions of dollars in ransom money to the GSPC. If this money doesn't flow back to Europe in the form of terrorist attacks, then surely it will be (and we reported on this before) used to further destabilize or perhaps even topple on of the Sahara countries' governments, paving the way for new Al Qaeda bases on our doorstep.