4 March 2013

Morocco: Polisario Fighter With AQIM in Mali Reported Taken Prisoner After Battle Killing Abou Zeid

Le Figaro and France24 report that a fighter from the Polisario Front--a separatist group based in desert camps near Tindouf, Algeria--was among seven militants taken prisoner after a fierce battle between French-Chadian forces and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in the mountains of northern Mali, which reportedly killed key al-Qaeda leader Abou Zeid and 42 other jihadists.

Last month, Malian foreign minister Tiéman Coulibaly confirmed the presence of "Polisario" fighters among terrorist groups fighting in northern Mali. "In the beginning, they were only 500 insurgents," said Coulibaly. "Now there are between 5,500 to 7,000 terrorists in northern Mali who were joined by lost youths, including young Sahrawis from the (Tindouf) camps," the Malian Foreign Minister said in an interview with French electronic news website "AtlasInfo."

And last week, a new study, "Terrorism in North Africa & the Sahel in 2012: Global Reach and Implications," authored by Yonah Alexander, Director of the Inter-University Center on Terrorism Studies (IUCTS), said intelligence reports have confirmed that al-Qaeda "has established links with Latin cartels for 'drugs-for-arms' smuggling through terrorist-trafficking networks that include members of the Polisario Front" in Algeria.

The study says that al-Qaeda linked groups "have expanded their reach and recruiting to other militants and groups across the Maghreb and Sahel," emboldened by the "increased flow" of Libyan arms in the region, and contributing to an "Arc of Instability" and new regional hub for al-Qaeda in Africa's Sahel.

Among the study's recommendations: improving control of national borders to reduce the flow of arms and jihadists in the region, and finding long-term solutions to reduce the potential for criminal and terrorist recruiting in the Polisario-run refugee camps run in Algeria.

Ads by Google

Copyright © 2013 Moroccan American Center for Policy. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.