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.