More on Morocco/Western Sahara Connection to Mali
In “Mali: Polisario Connection,” Jeune Afrique reports that as Jihadists in Northern Mali – AQIM, MUJAO, and Ansar Dine – feverishly organize in Timbuktu, Gao, and elsewhere for an international military intervention, new recruits have joined them from the Polisario-run Sahrawi refugee camps in Tindouf, Algeria and elsewhere across Africa’s Sahel.
Jeune Afrique cites French intelligence reports that groups of 40-60 men, up to 300 volunteers, arrived in Timbuktu and Gao during October, many of whom express themselves in Hassaniya, the Arabic dialect used by Moors and Sahrawis.
The article cites the October 21 press reports by AFP and others that members of the Polisario Front joined the Jihadists in Northern Mali, which the separatist group immediately denied. Jeune Afrique notes, however, that the presence of Salafi Jihadism in the camps “is not a recent phenomenon.” An investigation into radical Islam in the camps shows a presence as early as the late 1990s, and links between radicalism Islam in the camps and terrorism appear as early as 2003 . .
Jeune Afrique says neither the Polisario Front nor Algerians have been able to stop the “Salafist virus” among young people in the Tindouf camps, and have been even less able to prevent these “desperados” from leaving the camps to join jihadist movements. While Algerian and Polisario security forces now police the Tindouf camps together, the extremist appeal remains strong for young Sahrawis, and “no roadblock, no patrol, no minefield will prevent [them] from taking the path to Timbuktu.”
Jeune Afrique, by Francois Soudan (Paris, France, Oct. 28, 2012) – See the full feature story, “Mali: Polisario Connection,” available in French in the current issue of the Paris-based magazine Jeune Afrique at: [link to moroccoonthemove.files.wordpress.com