For openers, what exactly is the AQIM and what is their mission?
See the report from the Council on Foreign Relations. (Source)
Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) is a Salafi-jihadist militant group and U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization (FTO) operating in the Sahara and Sahel.
The group traces its provenance to Algeria’s civil war in the 1990s and has in the past decade become an al-Qaeda affiliate with regional ambitions.
AQIM and its offshoots pose the primary transnational terror threat in North and West Africa but are unlikely to strike in the United States and Europe, according to the RAND Corp. and U.S. officials. (Source)
Members of the Algerian Army
The flow of militants from the Sahara and Sahel to Syria and Iraq, where thousands of Moroccan and Tunisian citizens have joined terrorist groups, is raising concerns about battle-hardened fighters returning to these relatively stable countries.
Al Qaeda’s North African wing AQIM said it had killed a French hostage captured in northern Mali two years ago and that its other French captives were at risk because of France’s intervention there, Mauritania’s ANI news agency said on Sunday.
“All the other hostages are alive,” AQIM said in a communique seemingly addressed to the French people and quoted by ANI, which often receives AQIM statements.
(Alive at the time of the original posting in 2013: Whereabouts unknown)
“But we cannot guarantee their survival forever because of the attacks by your army on the mujahedeen’s bases.”
ANI reported earlier this week that an AQIM member said its fighters beheaded Philippe Verdon, who was seized in northern Mali in November 2011, on March 10. (Source)
French nationals Philippe Verdon and Serge Lazarevic, who are being held hostage by Al Qaeda, are seen surrounded by masked men holding guns in an undisclosed location in Mali, in this undated handout picture. REUTERS/Agence Nouakchott I
The Long War Journal
On Jan. 19, the Office of Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) released 49 documents recovered in Osama bin Laden’s compound.
To date, only a few hundred documents from bin Laden’s massive cache have been declassified.
Still, the files that have been posted online reveal new details about al Qaeda’s complex international network.
For instance, one newly released missive discusses Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb’s (AQIM) support for Boko Haram. (Source)
The letter was written by Abdelhamid Abou Zeid, an AQIM commander who was subsequently killed in Mali in 2013. It was authored in Aug. 2009 and is addressed to AQIM’s emir, Abdelmalek Droukdel (also known as Abu Musab Abdel Wadoud).
Boko Haram’s men sought AQIM’s assistance
“Imam Abubakar Shekau, who assumed power of the Nigeria group after the death of Imam Muhammad Yusuf, sent three brothers to us,” Abou Zeid wrote at the beginning of his letter.
Shekau (seen on the right) is the notorious leader of the organization commonly known as Boko Haram. Yusuf, who was killed in 2009, was Shekau’s immediate predecessor as head of the group.
Abou Zeid identified the “three brothers” as “Abu Muhammad Amir al Masir, Khalid al Barnawi, and Abu Rayhanah,” adding that the trio “previously lived with us in the Tariq Ibn Ziyad Battalion and we know them well and have close ties with them.”
The Tariq Ibn Ziyad Battalion has been one of AQIM’s strongest fighting units.
The three “want to have ties between their emir and the emir of AQIM and set up comms via Internet and phone,” Abou Zeid continued.
“They want to have an intermediary who is based in Niger” and “request cooperation between us and them and mentioned having a big problem with weapons and money.”
Abou Zeid explained to Droukdel that the trio wanted “to take brothers out of Nigeria and bring them here for training” and “would like to consult regarding waging jihad in Nigeria.”
The jihadis in Nigeria were desperate for “weapons and money,” Abou Zeid explained, and “some of the brothers are despairing” after their last major fight with government forces.
He indicated that the three men had only a small supply of arms and were “also having problems with explosives,” including “buying the materials.”
Many of their arms had fallen “into enemy hands” or were “broken,” and they had just “1000 detonators” for explosives.
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