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AQIM

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By William Tucker

Mujao, a North African terrorist movement, executed two attacks in Niger today. One attack in Agadez targeted a military barracks with a vehicle bomb ultimately killing 19. According to government statements, four of the five attackers involved in the Agadez attack are dead and the remaining individual is holding several military officers hostage. The other Mujao attack struck the Somair mine in Arlit and killed one person while injuring 14 others. Mujao took responsibility for the attack via Abu Walid Sahraoui, the groups spokesman. The Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa, or Mujao, is a group that split from the Organization of Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb due to internal fighting. Mujao publically announced their existence following their first recorded attack that included the kidnapping of three aid workers. Though Mujao had successfully carried out small attacks following their formation it was the coup in Mali, coupled with the ensuing chaos in the north, that allowed the group to more aggressively assert itself.

Shortly after today’s attack, international media coverage began referring to this attack as spillover from the French campaign in Mali. The term spill-over has entered the popular lexicon recently, but this has been typically applied to Syria and Lebanon. Strangely, spillover doesn’t really apply to that situation either. Nonetheless, MUJAO, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Mahgreb, and other jihadist militants have been fighting in North Africa for years. The recent events in Mali are more of an anomaly rather than the status quo, and the militants exploited a situation they found fortuitous. Essentially, one would have to ignore the years of previous militant operations to accept that the French campaign sparked the recent attacks. MUJAO will continue to launch attacks as long as North Africa remains a haven for militancy.

By William Tucker

On Friday, January 11th, French military forces were thrust into the midst of the Malian conflict in response to a recent Islamist offensive that was driving south. The Islamist offensive initially assaulted the central city of Mopti, and the nearby city of Sevare – which hosts the Mopti airport – before becoming bogged down. Rather than fight a protracted battle with the Malian military and risk heavy losses…

By William Tucker

The Malian army has stated that Islamists who seized much of northern Mali last year – along with several Tuareg groups – have begun moving south towards Mopti. The city of Mopti sits astride the Niger river and lays in the narrow region that separates the north of Mali from the south. Currently, the Malian army controls the majority of this chokepoint.

By William Tucker

Christopher Stevens, the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, was killed yesterday, along with three others, during an attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. Initial reports suggested that the attack was related to the protests that took place in Egypt over a film portraying the Muslim prophet Muhammad in a poor light; however eyewitness reports state that the attackers did not come from the group of protesters outside.

By William Tucker

Two weeks ago I stated the military led coup against the Malian government did not bode well for counterterrorism operations in North Africa. That now seems to be an understatement. The head of the Malian junta, Captain Amadou Sanogo, ordered the military to back off fighting in the northern city of Gao for fear of endangering the civilians in the city.

By William Tucker

In an event that could seriously damage counterterrorism efforts in North Africa, Malian soldiers have mutinied and are now firing on the presidential palace. The recent unrest was sparked by a visit to a northern military base by the Minister of Defense. Malian soldiers have been fighting a Tuareg offensive in the north only to be constantly defeated. Government soldiers are complaining of inadequate training and weapons.