Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

The North African Threat to Europe

January 30, 2013 8:55 am 0 comments

French soldiers in Bamako, Mali. Photo: Wiki commons.

Not long after the French offensive against African jihadists in Mali got underway, a leader of one of the offshoots of al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) declared that his organization would “strike at the heart of France.” AQIM attacked French embassies and most recently a gas facility in Algeria, where it took hostages. But was it ready to move its war against the West to the territories of the European states as well and thus pose a real threat to their security?

The fact is that for some time European leaders have been looking at the growth of al-Qaida in North Africa with real concern. After Islamist extremists took control of northern Mali last year, converting it into a terrorist sanctuary, EU heads of state met in Oct. 2012, and issued a statement characterizing the crisis in Mali as “an immediate threat” to Europe itself. French President Francois Hollande said he believed that AQIM was planning to use Mali as a launching pad for an attack on French soil. This month German Chancellor Angela Merkel added her voice to this view of the crisis in Mali, saying that “terrorism in Mali, or in the north of Mali, is a threat not just to Africa but also to Europe.”

French intelligence experts have traced the rise of jihadist forces in Mali and the rest of North Africa. Apparently, Pakistani and Afghan preachers began arriving in 2002-3 in Mali and Niger along with international jihadists who fled Afghanistan after the U.S. intervention drove them out. In other words, the rise of jihadist elements in these African countries was not just a local phenomenon, but rather linked to the original al-Qaida network.

By 2007, al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb was formed from an extremist offshoot of the Groupe Islamique Armee (GIA) that had fought in the Algerian Civil War in the 1990s. In March 2012, jihadist forces took over the northern two-thirds of Mali, converting it into a new African Afghanistan. Since 2009, the growing jihadi presence in West Africa spilled over into Mali’s neighbor, Niger, which also happens to be the sixth largest producer of uranium ore in the world.

The idea of launching attacks against the West was already proposed by the forerunners of AQIM. On Dec. 24, 1994, four terrorists from the GIA hijacked an Air France airbus that took off from Algiers and was bound for Paris. In what looked like a rehearsal for 9/11 (there was no connection between the two events) their plan was to use the French aircraft as a missile and crash it into the Eiffel Tower with all the passengers on board. French gendarme stormed the aircraft in Marseilles and eliminated the GIA team. In 1995, GIA killed eight people and injured 100 in a bomb attack on the Paris Metro.

The idea that radical Islamic organizations seek to target the West should not come as a surprise. It has been a prevalent theme in their writings, especially in the Muslim Brotherhood from which many of the leaders of al-Qaida emerged. Hassan al-Bana, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood wrote that after the establishment of the Islamic state in Egypt, the struggle against the West must continue: “We will not stop at this point, but will pursue this evil force to its own lands, invade its Western heartland …” In the same way, Muhammad Akef, the former Supreme Guide of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood declared in 2004 his “complete faith that Islam will invade Europe and America.” Western apologists often ignore these hard-line positions, but they undoubtedly influenced the political education of younger generations of jihadists, who later operationalized them.

The U.S. has not seen the new North African threat as intensely as the Europeans. The New York Times ran a story on Jan. 18 entitled “U.S. Sees Hazy Threat from Mali Militants.” The newspaper reported that during Congressional testimony last June a State Department official played down the threat from what was happening in Mali, saying that AQIM “has not threatened to attack the U.S. homeland.” Another view, coming out of the Pentagon, points to the role of AQIM in the attack on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, in which four Americans were killed, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, J. Christopher Stevens.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton put forward a more urgent view of recent developments in North Africa during testimony before Congressional committees on Jan. 23 when she said: “… the instability in Mali has created an expanding safe haven for terrorists who look to extend their influence and plot further attacks of the kind we just saw last week in Algeria.”

That a new region-wide threat is emerging was underscored by the report by Algeria’s prime minister, Abdelmalik Sellal, who said that the seizure of hostages at the Algerian gas plant appears to have been conducted by terrorists who crossed into Algeria from Northern Mali. There are also indications now that this operation received logistical support from Islamist militias in eastern Libya. It is only a short leap from the emergence of a new region-wide al-Qaida infrastructure in North Africa, that crosses international borders, to a direct threat to Europe itself. Apparently, France already understands that this is what is at stake, but it is not fully appreciated that widely.

The difficult point that Western analysts just do not understand is the blind hatred of the West as a whole among all the jihadist organizations, associated with al-Qaida. Many times in Europe it is hoped that by taking a more critical position against Israel, European diplomats can lower the flames of radical Islamic rage against them. But these policies simply don’t work because the jihadists’ readiness to attack the West comes from a desire to eradicate Western civilization and not from the pronouncements of Catherine Ashton or any other senior European official either for or against Israel.

This article  was originally published by Israel Hayom.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Relationships Yossi Vardi Credits Pushy Jewish Mother for His Startup Success

    Yossi Vardi Credits Pushy Jewish Mother for His Startup Success

    Millionaire entrepreneur Yossi Vardi credited his success in start-ups to his Jewish mother continuously pushing him to do better, Daily Mail reported on Thursday. “Jewish mothers are never satisfied and nothing is ever good enough,” he said, adding that his mother, who died 15 years ago, used to compare him with his cousins and say he was “an idiot.” “For most of my life I have been trying to show her I’m not,” he continued. “I keep on trying even now.” Vardi, […]

    Read more →
  • Theater US & Canada Seth Rogen Unveils New Christmas Movie — ‘Will Open on Thanksgiving, Made by Jews’ (VIDEO)

    Seth Rogen Unveils New Christmas Movie — ‘Will Open on Thanksgiving, Made by Jews’ (VIDEO)

    Famed actor Seth Rogen on Tuesday unveiled with typical comic fanfare the trailer for his new Christmas film. The movie “was made by Jews… and opens on Thanksgiving,” Rogen pointed out on Twitter. The Night Before tells the tale of three “ride or die homies” celebrating one last debauchery-filled Christmas Eve reunion before they become too busy to keep up their annual tradition. In an effort to make the night as memorable as possible, they set out to find the “Nutcracka Ball – the […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish History Art Can Inspire Faith; It Can Also Empower Destructive Ideologies

    Art Can Inspire Faith; It Can Also Empower Destructive Ideologies

    A June 2015 art exhibit, “The Transformative Power of Art,” at the United Nations headquarters in New York City, harnessed the universal language of art to convey an important message: “Our fragile Mother Earth faces the devastating consequences of climate change, a defining challenge of our time.” The exhibit also included sixteen portraits of people from all over the world who have “contributed to the common good of humanity in one way or another and have transformed the way we […]

    Read more →
  • Israel Sports Israeli Muslim Cage Fighter Says He’s Proud to Fight Under Jewish State’s Flag

    Israeli Muslim Cage Fighter Says He’s Proud to Fight Under Jewish State’s Flag

    A 32-year-old Circassian Israeli Muslim Mixed Martial Arts fighter from Abu Ghosh says he takes pride in fighting under the Israeli flag, Israel’s Walla reported on Sunday. Like most Circassian Israelis, Jackie “the Punishment” Gosh was born Sunni Muslim. He became observant about eight years ago, and is now scrupulous in following his religion’s tenets, praying five times a day and fasting during the holy month of Ramadan. Gosh is also very proud of his Israeli nationality, and sees no contradiction between […]

    Read more →
  • Israel Music New Mark Skinner Documentary Explores Jewish, Arab Rap Scene in Israel (VIDEO)

    New Mark Skinner Documentary Explores Jewish, Arab Rap Scene in Israel (VIDEO)

    A new documentary explores the lives and work of Jewish and Arab rappers in Israel and how the ongoing conflict in the region has impacted their lyrics, the U.K.’s Jewish Chronicle reported on Thursday. Hip Hop in the Holy Land is a six-part series co-directed by Mike Skinner, the British frontman of hip-hop group The Streets, and produced by Noisey, a music channel published by Vice news. The first episode, published last week, shows Skinner meeting with Tamer Nafar, the founder of one of […]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada 49ers Running Back Jarryd Hayne Apologizes for ‘Hurtful’ Jesus Tweets

    49ers Running Back Jarryd Hayne Apologizes for ‘Hurtful’ Jesus Tweets

    New 49ers running back and Australian rugby star Jarryd Hayne apologized on Wednesday for a tweet in which he raised the age-old myth that Jews were historically responsible for Jesus Christ’s death. Reaching out to his Jewish fans, and the chairman of the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission, Hayne tweeted: “To the Jewish community @DvirAbramovich #WeAreAllOne.” Underneath, he keenly included a screenshot of a text message to elaborate on his apology: “I sincerely apologize for my tweets on July 1. I […]

    Read more →
  • Theater Israeli Actress Gal Gadot Recalls Being ‘Extremely Surprised’ at Winning Miss Israel Contest

    Israeli Actress Gal Gadot Recalls Being ‘Extremely Surprised’ at Winning Miss Israel Contest

    Israeli actress Gal Gadot reminisced about her childhood in Israel during an interview published in this month’s edition of Vanity Fair. “I don’t remember this, but my mom told me that when I was three they threw a party on the rooftop of the house. They put me to bed, and I heard people coming into the house and no one came to me. I went to the rooftop and took a hose and I started to spray water on everyone, just […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Features Wounded Israeli Soldiers Unite With American Veterans to Help Their ‘Brothers for Life’ Heal (INTERVIEW)

    Wounded Israeli Soldiers Unite With American Veterans to Help Their ‘Brothers for Life’ Heal (INTERVIEW)

    An Israeli organization is helping wounded U.S. veterans move past their physical and psychological challenges by connecting them with injured Israeli soldiers who understand what they’ve been through. “What we discovered very early is that there’s no ‘professional, psychiatrist, social worker’ or anything like that [or] pills that can come even close to helping a soldier who fought in combat, who was wounded, who lost his friends. No one can help him like another person who’s been through exactly what he has,” Rabbi Chaim Levine, […]

    Read more →