Hundreds of Jihadists pour into northern Mali from Polisario-run camps, Sudan, to aid al-Qaeda-linked groups
Washington, DC (Oct. 23, 2012) — Agence France Press has reported that “hundreds of jihadist fighters poured into Mali over the weekend” to reinforce the al-Qaeda-linked extremists who seized control of northern Mali seven months ago. The news comes as regional leaders prepare a plan requested by the UN Security Council for military action to take back northern Mali and prevent it from becoming a haven for terrorists in the region.
“They are coming from the [Polisario-run] camps of Tindouf in Algeria, from Senegal, from Ivory Coast, from everywhere,” said Habib Ould Issouf, a leader for the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), an offshoot of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), that controls the northern Mali city, Gao.
AFP said the influx was confirmed Sunday by Malian security officials and residents in Gao and Timbuktu. A Gao resident reported 10 pick-up trucks packed with armed fighters arriving at MUJAO’s main office. In Timbuktu, another resident said “more than 150 Sudanese Islamists arrived in 48 hours.”
The news corroborates an October 8 editorial by the Paris-based magazine Jeune Afrique. Citing a study shared by European and Maghreb intelligence sources, the editorial said that hundreds of new recruits are joining northern Mali extremist groups from the Polisario-run refugee camps near Tindouf, Algeria and elsewhere in the region, and have been paid 4,000 Euro hiring bonuses.
The US and Morocco have both urged that western and northern African nations tighten border security to combat the increased flow of extremists, as well as weapons and drugs.
“Multiple reports warn that the dismal conditions in the Polisario-run refugee camps make them fertile ground for terrorist recruiting,” said Jordan Paul, Executive Director, Moroccan American Center for Policy. “These camps are a clear danger to refugees the Polisario has forced to live there, to aid-workers targeted by kidnappers, and now increasingly to regional security. After 36 years, it’s time the refugees be given the right to leave if they want.”
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