HAS AL-QAEDA STARTED A FEUD WITH THE TUAREG?
Fallout continues in North Africa from the July 22 raid on elements of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. The joint operation by French and Mauritanian security forces on Malian territory was intended to free 78-year-old hostage Michel Germaneau. The raid failed and Germaneau was killed in retaliation, but six AQIM operatives were killed by security forces, infuriating AQIM leaders, who continue to hold two Spanish hostages in northern Mali. An AQIM statement described the six dead al-Qaeda members as being three Tuareg, an Algerian, a Mauritanian and a Moroccan (Reuters, August 16).
Abdelhamid (Hamidu) Abu Zaid, an AQIM commander responsible for a number of kidnappings and for the execution of British tourist Edwin Dyer, is reported to be suspicious that the Tuareg provided the precise information that enabled the joint commando force to locate and kill the six AQIM operatives. Abu Zaid took his revenge by abducting and murdering a Tuareg customs officer named Mirzag Ag El Housseini, the brother of a senior Malian Army commander, Brahim Ag El Housseini (El Khabar [Algiers], August 12). No ransom was sought for the captive, who was executed on August 12 (Radio France Internationale, August 13). A soldier abducted at the same time as Mirzag and another abducted civilian were released by AQIM on August 16 (AFP, August 16).
The leader of AQIM in Mauritania, Abu Anas al-Shanqiti, warned that AQIM would carry out reprisals against the “traitorous apostates, children and agents of Christian France” as a result of the raid (Agence Nouakchott d’Information, August 16; AFP, July 24). The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded to these “threats uttered by assassins” by announcing that France’s security apparatus was “fully mobilized” (Le Monde, August 17; AFP, August 17).
Reports from Mali claim President Amadou Toumani Touré “is seething” over the Franco-Mauritanian commando operation in northern Mali. The President was apparently not informed of the operation in advance, nor were Malian forces called on to participate (Jeune Afrique, August 16).
Mali is still struggling with a simmering Tuareg insurgency in its vast and poorly controlled northern region. Colonel Hassan Ag Fagaga, a noted Tuareg rebel, has threatened to resume the insurgency if the government does not implement the terms of the 2008 Algiers Accord (El Khabar, July 15). Colonel Ag Fagaga brought 400 Tuareg fighters in for integration with Mali’s armed forces in 2009. He has already deserted twice to join the Tuareg rebels in the north. Al-Qaeda has tried to ingratiate itself with the disaffected Tuareg of northern Mali but has had only marginal success. Some former rebels have even offered to form Tuareg counterterrorist units to expel the mostly Arab al-Qaeda group from the region.
NEW BOOK BY FORMER JIHAD IDEOLOGUE DR. FADL CLAIMS TALIBAN VICTORY IN AFGHANISTAN IS INEVITABLE
A former leading jihadi ideologue and long-time colleague of al-Qaeda’s Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri has published a new book that examines the future of the conflict in Afghanistan. Egyptian native Dr. Fadl (a.k.a. Sayyid Imam Abdulaziz al-Sharif) was a founder of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad organization (aljarida.com, November 27, 2007; see also Terrorism Monitor, December 10, 2007). After a falling out with al-Zawahiri in Pakistan, Dr. Fadl moved to Yemen, where he remained until he was deported to Egypt after 9/11 to begin a lifetime prison sentence. While in prison, Dr. Fadl published a seminal document on the re-examination of al-Qaeda’s global jihad, entitled Tarshid al-amal al-jihadi fi misr wa al-alam (Rationalizing the Jihadi Action in Egypt and the World). Known popularly as the “Revisions,” Dr. Fadl’s work became the first in a series of similar “revisions” to emerge from imprisoned militants in the Muslim world. Previously, Dr. Fadl had been best known as the author of an important jihadi manual, 1988’s Al-omda fi i’dad al-udda (The Master in Making Preparation [for Jihad]), which he initially published under the name Abdul Qadir bin Abdulaziz.
Dr. Fadl’s new book is entitled Future of the War between America and Taliban in Afghanistan and has been carried in excerpts by the pan-Arab daily al-Sharq al-Awsat. The new work is highly critical of Osama bin Laden, whom Dr. Fadl accuses of manipulating the Taliban in his own interest before 9/11, eventually causing their downfall through his treachery.
Nevertheless, Dr. Fadl predicts a Taliban victory in the present struggle to retake Afghanistan from Coalition forces and the corrupt government of President Hamid Karzai. The author offers 12 reasons why a Taliban victory is inevitable:
1. A successful jihad must be accompanied by a religious reform movement. The religious motivation of the Taliban (as opposed to tribal loyalties or the pursuit of wealth) meets this criterion.
2. The Taliban cause is just, as it seeks to repel foreign occupation. Dr. Fadl points to the examples of the American Revolution, French resistance to Vichy and Nazi rule and the anti-Japanese resistance movements in Asia during World War Two.
3. Cross-border tribal bonds with Pakistani Pashtun tribesmen are vital to the jihad’s success; “Loyalty of the Pashtu in Pakistan to the Pashtu in Afghanistan is stronger than their loyalty to their government in Islamabad.”
4. Jihad has popular support from the people of Afghanistan, who provide fighters with support, shelter and intelligence.
5. The nature of the terrain in Afghanistan and the inaccessibility of Taliban refugees make it eminently suitable for guerrilla warfare; “He who fights geography is a loser.”
6. The backwardness of Afghanistan favors the success of jihad. The Russian experience proved that even a scorched-earth policy has little effect on people who are tolerant, patient and have little to lose in the first place. There is little in the way of cultural establishments to be destroyed – Afghanistan’s monuments are its mountains and “even atomic bombs do not affect them.”
7. As the battlefield widens beyond the Taliban strongholds in the south, occupation forces must face increasing financial and personnel losses.
8. Both time and the capacity to endure losses are on the side of the Taliban, who “do not have a ceiling to their losses, especially with regard to lives…”
9. Suicide operations make up for the shortage of modern weapons.
10. After three decades of nearly continuous warfare, Taliban fighters and leaders have the necessary experience to prevail against the occupation.
11. History is also on the Taliban’s side. Despite being world powers, both the British Empire and the Soviet Union failed to conquer Afghanistan.
12. Pakistan’s support of the Taliban provides the necessary third-party refuge and supplies to any successful guerrilla struggle.