hell of a season

What I see/Is killing me/You won’t make it on your own/In this hell of a season

A number of articles – as interesting as they are problematic – have appeared over the past 10 days on AQIM, Boko Haram, linkages, money, men and material.

ANI ran a piece on the 10 March 2012 entitled, “Exclusif… Mort des deux otages occidentaux tués au Nigeria: Une source d’AQMI livre quelques détails” which gave a number of details suggesting that Boko Haram or AQIM or someone involved somehow was in some way involved in the kidnap of the United Kingdom and Italian national. An interesting comment was, “[Boko Haram] qui détenait les ingénieurs européens dans la ville de Sokoto, à la frontière avec le Niger par un groupe dirigé par Khaled Al-Barnaoui l’un des premiers nigériens à intégrer le GSPC avec lequel il a participé à l’attaque de Lemgheity, avant que le group ne prête allégeance à Al-Qaida et devienne AQMI”.

This is roughly translated as “[Boko Haram] who held the European engineers in the town of Sokoto on the border with Niger was commanded by Khaled Al-Barnaoui, one of the first from Niger to join the GSPC with whom he participated in the attack on Lemgheity, before the group swore allegiance to Al-Qaida and became AQIM”.

Curiously, a 2 August 2009 article from the Nation, “Revealed: Boko Haram leaders trained in Afghanistan, Algeria” states;

“The truth is that the SSS had in the last two years discovered the Boko Haram sect. One of the findings of the service was the fact that many of their members trained in Algeria” a highly-placed source told our correspondent. “They have link with a guerilla group in Algeria called GSPC (otherwise called Jamatul Salafia),  which is based in the desert in Algeria. One Khalid Barnawi, an Algerian is identified as the sponsor of the sect in the country.

For an older overview of militancy in West Africa see this report  Militancy and Violence in West Africa: Reflecting on Radicaliation, Comparing Contexts, and Evaluating Effectiveness of Preventive Policies: Full Research Report ESRC End of Award Report, RES-181-25-0024. Swindon: ESRC.

See also this report, “Islamic Radicalisation and Violence in Nigeria” from Abiodun Alao.

It is always refreshing to see academics ahead of the game.

On the 10 March 2012, Le Monde ran a series of three articles on AQIM, Boko Haram and Mauritania. All of them are worth reading, if only to be frustrated. The one on Boko Haram is here. The main article “Sahara : peut-on arrêter Al-Qaida ?” contains at least a number of statements presented as fact which are open to question;

80 kidnaps since 2007: Is this for kidnaps in the Sahel or does this count kidnaps in Algeria as well? See this post from Alex Thurston on kidnaps and killings in the Sahel which suggests that if failed kidnaps are included as well as the most recent ones then less than 30 persons have been kidnapped.

183 million euros in ransoms: Assuming that the 14 – based on a quick count – individuals who have been released since 2007 were all involved in exchanges for cash, on average this would be some 13 million euros.

300, 500, 1000 AQIM members plus 50% annual losses that are replaced….the numbers cited for AQIM are complicated see this earlier post for a discussion on a difficult issue.