Monday, June 07, 2004

Sahara New Front In War On Terror

The Washington Times reports today that The Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), made famous for its kidnapping of European tourists last year, has bought heavy arms and GPS equipment with the $7.3 million Germany allegedly paid for the release of its and other European citizens. A sum that equals a quarter of the defense budget of a country like Niger, so it should go a long way in their struggle to topple one of the waivering governments in the region.

The Washington Times goes on to say that the (see Pan-Sahel Initiative) opening of the new front, in which US Special Forces take part, has already resulted in the capture of the GSPC's leader:

The Army plans to spend $125 million over the next five years on its Trans-Sahara Counter Terrorism Initiative, aimed at preventing groups allied to al Qaeda from establishing a foothold in the region.
American Special Forces are being deployed discreetly in the region — which covers eight countries and thousands of miles of desert — to train, advise and equip pro-U.S. government troops.
In a significant breakthrough in March, the U.S. military helped orchestrate the ambush and capture in western Chad of Amari Saifi, the Salafist group's leader.
Brahim Tchouma of the Movement of Democracy and Justice, a pro-U.S. rebel group that is holding Saifi, said they were prepared to hand the former Algerian paratrooper to the United States or its allies.

Reuters reports meanwhile, that the GSPC claimed responsibility for a daytime raid on an Algerian Army convoy, so money well spent (Thank you, Schroeder).

This is our backyard, folks. Oh and no, as far as we know, Spain is not involved in hunting down the terrorist groups responsible for the March 11 attacks on Madrid.