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US to Adopt Somalia Policy in Mali - DRONE Wars

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10/02/2012 08:24 PM
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US to Adopt Somalia Policy in Mali - DRONE Wars
The White House has held a series of secret meetings in recent months to examine the threat posed by al-Qaeda’s franchise in North Africa and consider for the first time whether to prepare for unilateral strikes, U.S. officials said.

The deliberations reflect concern that al-Qaeda’s African affiliate has become more dangerous since gaining control of large pockets of territory in Mali and acquiring weapons from post-revolution Libya. . . .

Army Gen. Carter F. Ham, chief of U.S. Africa Command, said Friday during a visit to Morocco that there “are no plans for U.S. direct military intervention” in Mali. But he and others have made clear that the United States is prepared to support counterterrorism or peacekeeping operations by other countries.

In addition, the U.S. military has launched a series of clandestine intelligence missions, including the use of civilian aircraft to conduct surveillance flights and monitor communications over the Sahara Desert and the arid region to the south, known as the Sahel. . . .

Officials stressed that no decisions have been made about deploying armed drones or other lethal assets. The nearest U.S. drone base in Africa is across the continent in Ethi­o­pia, and administration officials said they would consider unilateral strikes only as a last resort.

For now, the officials said, the emphasis is on replicating aspects of the counterterrorism formula in Somalia. The United States has conducted intelligence operations there, as well as strikes, but has mainly relied on African troops to battle an al-Qaeda-linked militant group known as al-Shabab. . . .

The Africa Command has continued to operate surveillance flights — under a classified program code-named Creek Sand – from a U.S. Special Operations forces base in Burkina Faso. ...

Senior U.S. officials said there was no American involvement in a reported June airstrike in northern Mali and that they still don’t know whether it occurred. Regional news organizations described a “mystery airstrike” that killed seven AQIM-aligned fighters traveling in a convoy of four vehicles.

White House meetings examine al-Qaeda threat in North Africa - [link to www.washingtonpost.com]
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10/02/2012 09:09 PM
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Re: US to Adopt Somalia Policy in Mali - DRONE Wars
Background - Public Execution, Stonings & Amputations

Radical Islamists in northern Mali executed a man on Tuesday evening who had been accused of killing someone, a punishment that was witnessed by about 600 people in the town of Timbuktu.

The public execution was the latest move by the militants to impose their strict interpretation of Islamic Shariah law. Previously the Islamists have stoned to death a couple accused of adultery, and carried out at least eight amputations.

[link to www.washingtonpost.com]