#AceNewsServices – ALGIERS – May 02 – Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) claimed responsibility Thursday for an April ambush in Algeria’s restive Kabylie region that killed 11 soldiers.
“On the night of April 19, Mujahideen ambushed an army convoy in the Iboudrarene region… The toll was around 30 soldiers killed or wounded,” said a statement posted on-line.
At the time, a security source said gunmen in the AQIM bastion of Iboudrarene, east of Algiers, had ambushed the convoy and killed 11 soldiers.
The attack was the deadliest on the military in years and came two days after ailing President Abdelaziz Bouteflika was re-elected.
The convoy was returning to barracks after helping to secure the election, during which clashes broke out in Kabylie between police and anti-Bouteflika youths. — AFP
AQIM Analysis by Posted by RBoales isvg.org
Of all Al Qaeda’s regional affiliates AQIM has probably garnered the least attention in the United States. A concern about growing synergy between Islamist terrorist groups in North and Central Africa, however, has thrust AQIM to the forefront. AQIM recently swore allegiance to newly appointed AQC leader, Ayman Al Zawahiri, on 7/7/2010, and the group purportedly has nascent ties to Nigeria’s Boko Haram and Somalia’s Al-Shabaab.
On the macro scale, the United States’ interest in North and Central Africa is driven by security as well as energy concerns, particularly as Russia and China seek to expand economic ties to the region. Pham argues that the region has the potential of “being the setting for an explosive mix of Islamist terrorism, secular grievances, and criminality.” Weak military and counter-terrorism forces in Niger, Mali, and Mauritania, coupled with vast desert landscapes, have allowed AQIM to establish footholds in many of the region’s ungoverned areas.
AQIM is undergoing increased decentralization, but despite this fact, at least two of its senior leaders have connections to AQC. In November 2010, the current AQIM leader, Abdelmalek Droukdel, released a tape informing French authorities that they must negotiate directly with Osama Bin Laden to secure the release of French nationals kidnapped by AQIM in September 2010.
Droukdel was also in contact with the late Al Qaeda in Iraq leader, Abu Musab Al Zarqawi, in 2004 and 2005, as well as AQC leaders based in Waziristan, Pakistan.
Mukhtar Belmokhtar, an infamous Algerian jihadist who fought with the mujahideen in Afghanistan in the early 1990’s and was a commander of the Salafist Group for Call and Combat’s (GSPC) Masked Brigade in the 2000’s, served as a liaison between AQC and Algerian-based terrorist groups.
He was in contact with AQC when it was based in Sudan in the early 1990’s and continued to serve as a point of contact through the mid-2000’s; while he has notoriously been at odds with the Algeria-based wing of AQIM led by Droukdel, Belmokhtar still provides support to AQIM and is a major player in the Sahel region, leading a brigade of 150 men.
Finally, the recent arrest of former GSPC operative and current AQC external operations committee member Younis al-Mauritani (aka Abdul Rahman Hussein) is evidence of closer ties between AQC and AQIM, assuming al-Mauritani has remained in touch with his North African contacts.
Editor: Will update to present day in next post …………… soon
AFP – SAUDI GAZETTE – ISVG