Magharebia (Washington DC)

Mali: AQIM Uses Hostages for Leverage in Mali

Nouakchott — Desperate to avoid military action, terrorists in Mali are now threatening to kill Algerian and European hostages.

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and the Movement for Tawhid and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) are attempting to use kidnapped Algerian and Europeans to forestall intervention in northern Mali.

"We will oppose the international threat against us by engaging in combat and jihad," Ahmed Ould Amer, emir of MUJAO's Osama Bin Laden brigade and a member of the group's Shura Council, said on Monday (December 3rd)

The Mali-based terrorists are "trying to pressure the Algerian government by exploiting the suffering of the kidnapped diplomats' families", said analyst Abderrehman Ould Dah, "especially since the execution of Algerian vice-consul Taher Touati didn't influence the Algerian government's position and didn't make it give in to conditions".

"MUJAO fears that Algeria won't respond to calls for negotiations, and in this way, other regional governments may adopt the same approach; something that would undoubtedly lead to the failure of the hostage-taking business," he concluded.

MUJAO is not the only terror group in Mali attempting to use hostages to ward off military action by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

AQIM is also trying to play the same card, as evidenced by comments from leader Abdelmalek Droukdel (aka Abou Moussaab Abdelouadoud) to Sahara Media last Saturday.

Addressing the families of French hostages, Droukdel said, "President Hollande is putting the lives of French hostages in danger by adopting a policy of running forward." He added that the French president is "preparing for military intervention, and thus is digging graves for the French hostages who are held by our group."

"If the hostages had included one of his own relatives, he wouldn't have put their lives in danger by entering into the scorching desert war," the terror leader said.

Journalist Ibrahim Ould Nafie told Magharebia that the statements from Droukdel were just "propaganda and exploitation of hostages' families' feelings", adding it was an attempt to turn the victims' relatives against the French government.

According to Jidou Ould Sidi, a journalist specialising in security matters, the security situation in the Sahel has deteriorated in recent months and that the people of the region are paying the price.

"Even aid workers are being forced to leave the area, which has become very dangerous," Ould Sidi added.

Politics professor Ba Mamadou echoed the sentiment, saying that "for some months now, a number of international humanitarian organisations have put a stop to all movements by their Western employees in the Gao region of north-eastern Mali."

"Some international NGOs are working in great secrecy, using vehicles without license plates to continue their operations more safely in the region," Mamadou added. "It is in Gao that the situation is most worrying at the moment, but other regions of Mali have also been put on alert."

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