Terrorism in East and West Africa
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Terrorism in East and West Africa

The Under-focused Dimension

Nick Ridley

Since 9/11, despite extensive international efforts against global terrorism, there has been a misfocussing on the terrorism in Africa. This timely book draws upon the author’s experience as a former intelligence analyst, to give an account of terrorism in East and West Africa in the first two decades after the 9/11 attacks. It analyses why there is an incorrect strategic approach to this threat and will serve as a valuable compendium detailing terrorist groups and their activities in Africa to those studying terrorism.
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Chapter 7: Mali – the second decade catalyst

Nick Ridley


Mali, with its population of just over 14 million, of whose population 90 per cent are Muslim and over 50 per cent are illiterate, has a fragile economy. The 10 per cent Tuareg minority have periodically created disturbances, in their campaign for recognition of their rights and even independence for the northern region (Azawad), with compromise peace agreements being brokered between the moderate Tuaregs and the government in 1991 and 2006, and the militant Tuaregs being finally defeated in 2008. Despite these factors, for a period of over 20 years Mali was a stable, even democratic, state in a region of unpredictability. However, during the period 2011–2012 this stability rapidly deteriorated. This was caused by a combination of the weakness of the political system and of security institutions, the pent up historical grievances in the north of the country, and the external factor of the regional impact of the Libyan conflict. In April 2011 unconfirmed reports indicated that many of the Tuareg minority of combat age had left to join the pro-Gadhafi forces in Libya. During and after the civil war, the Tuaregs, now better armed as a result of their combat experience in Libya, united their two movements, the Northern Mali Tuareg Movement and the National Azawad Movement, into the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA). Open rebellion by the Tuaregs in the north of the country started in mid-December 2011. The rebellion brought forth another element, al Qaeda in the Maghreb (AQIM). AQIM had a long pedigree.

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