Afghans, Pakistanis training Islamists in Mali: Niger

Jihadi fighters from Afghanistan and Pakistan are training Islamist groups in northern Mali, Niger's President Mahamadou Issoufou warned Thursday, as world powers discussed military intervention.

"We have information on the presence of Afghans and Pakistanis in northern Mali... They are believed to be working as instructors," he told the France 24 news channel.

"They are the ones who are training those who have been recruited across various west African countries," said Issoufou, whose country shares a long and porous desert border with Mali.

Mali, once considered a beacon of democracy in western Africa, has plunged into chaos since the collapse of Moamer Kadhafi's regime in Libya last year scattered mercenaries and weapons across the Sahel.

Tuareg rebels rekindled their decades-old struggle for independence in January and conquered the entire northern half of Mali virtually unopposed in March, after renegade soldiers who accused then-president Amadou Toumani Toure of failing to do enough to fight the rebellion toppled his regime.

The Tuareg rebels fought alongside a previously unknown Islamist group called Ansar Dine (Defenders of Faith), which is believed to be backed by Al Qaeda's north African branch.

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has been active for years in northern Mali, where it has launched attacks against government army positions, kidnapped foreigners and allegedly benefitted from drug running.

France TF1 channel aired amateur footage shot in the fabled northern Malian town of Timbuktu that purportedly shows Abou Zeid, an Algerian considered one of the top AQIM leaders driving a pick-up truck.

Issoufou said the Islamist groups are part of a global network spanning much of Africa and reaching all the way to Afghanistan.

"I think all these organisations cooperate amongst themselves, whether the Shebab in Somalia, Boko Haram in Nigeria, AQIM in Algeria and in the Sahel in general, all the way to Afghanistan," he said.

"Our concern is that the Sahel not become a new Afghanistan."

The comments came as US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sounded the alarm Thursday over the continuing threat posed by Al Qaeda even in the wake of the killing of its mastermind, Osama bin Laden.

"The core of Al-Qaeda that carried out the 9/11 attacks may be on the path to defeat, but the threat has spread, becoming more geographically diverse," Clinton said in an opening address to the Global Counterterrorism Forum in Istanbul.

Government troops have no control over Mali's north, a territory larger than France, heightening fears in the region and beyond that the landlocked country could become a new global haven for Al Qaeda.

Talks on a possible military intervention in Mali opened Thursday in Abidjan between officials from the United Nations, the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

Participants at the talks will discuss whether to ask the UN Security Council to authorise military action in Mali, said Ivory Coast Foreign Minister Daniel Kablan Duncan, whose country currently holds the rotating presidency of West African regional bloc ECOWAS.

Issoufou said he feared the hardline Islamist groups regrouping in northern Mali could spread to his country, which has also been hit by AQIM attacks in recent years.

"These groups in northern Mali are continuing to get their supply of weapons from southwestern Libya," he said.

He also said he could not rule out a military intervention in Mali, stressing however that it should be "a last resort."

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • ToyotaPH continues it’s strong sales in February
    ToyotaPH continues it’s strong sales in February

    Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) sustains its strong sales in its February performance. Toyota’s strong performance last month was due to the  high demand of the Vios, with sales of 2,012 units and of course the rest of Toyota’s line up such as the Fortuner, Innova, Wigo, Hilux, Avanza and Corolla Altis. Toyota’s luxury brand, Lexus, recorded 60 units last month. …

  • No apology, but Noy seeks understanding
    No apology, but Noy seeks understanding

    There was no apology, but President Aquino yesterday expressed regret, took “full responsibility” and appealed to the nation for “deepest understanding” for the Jan. 25 Mamasapano raid in which dozens died, including 44 police Special Action Force (SAF) commandos. “To every Filipino who has felt failure or has been hurt because of the events related to this operation, it is with abiding humility that I ask for your deepest understanding,” Aquino said in a speech before the 246 new graduates of …

  • MVP on endorsement: Thanks, I’m no politician
    MVP on endorsement: Thanks, I’m no politician

    Businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan is grateful for Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s praise and presidential endorsement, but says he is not a politician. In an interview on the sidelines of the launch of the search for The Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) of the Philippines 2015 Wednesday night, Pangilinan dismissed the idea of running for president in the 2016 elections. “I’m not a politician, I’m just an ordinary business person,” he added. Santiago endorsed Pangilinan as a presidential candidate …

  • No Lenten break in operations vs lawless groups – AFP
    No Lenten break in operations vs lawless groups – AFP

    The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is not suspending its offensive against the Abu Sayyaf, New People’s Army (NPA) and other lawless groups during the Holy Week, an official said yesterday. Lt. Col. Harold Cabunoc, AFP public affairs office chief, said the AFP leadership is leaving it up to area and division commanders whether to raise the alert status in preparation for the Holy Week. Those deployed in areas where there are ongoing law enforcement operations against terrorist groups …

  • Probe harassment vs human rights lawyer, CA orders AFP
    Probe harassment vs human rights lawyer, CA orders AFP

    The Court of Appeals (CA) has ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to investigate a human rights lawyer’s claim of harassment, including surveillance, by several military officers. In a 22-page decision, the former Special Sixth Division of the appellate court granted the petition for writ of amparo and habeas data of Maria Catherine Dannug-Salucon. The CA ordered the AFP to identify the officers behind the surveillance and file charges against them. The CA ruling said …

  • Noy vows to dismantle bata-bata system in PNP
    Noy vows to dismantle bata-bata system in PNP

    President Aquino vowed yesterday to dismantle the culture of factionalism or the bata-bata system within the Philippine National Police as he continued the search for the next PNP chief. Speaking at the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) commencement exercises here, the President said the country needed solidarity among leaders and members of the police force so that the policemen would be effective protectors of Filipinos. “Our challenge to the next chief of our national police force: …

  • Envoy to expats: Retire, invest in Phl
    Envoy to expats: Retire, invest in Phl

    Retire and invest in real estate in the Philippines, especially now that the country has made it to the top 10 retirement destinations in the world. This is the message being spread by the Philippine embassy in Washington, with Ambassador Jose Cuisia Jr. leading the refrain in meetings with various Filipino-American communities in the US. In his talks, Cuisia said that an affordable cost of living as well as warm climate and people are just some of the things that make the Philippines a top …

  • PNPA spotlight falls on Ampatuan grandson
    PNPA spotlight falls on Ampatuan grandson

    The stigma of being a namesake of the principal suspect in the 2009 Maguindanao massacre did not prevent Cadet First Class Andal Ampatuan III from entering and graduating from the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA). Ampatuan III, now with a rank of police inspector, is a grandson of former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. The younger Ampatuan was among the 246 graduates of the PNPA “Lakandula” Class of 2015. Ampatuan III’s mother is Bai Rebecca Ampatuan, a daughter of the …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options