Sexta-feira, 1 de Outubro de 2010

IPRIS Viewpoints 21

AQIM's hostage taking and the ransom dilemma

By Diogo Noivo

Hostage taking can only be solved by addressing the structural dimension of the problem. It is an enormous challenge with many potential roadblocks, but it is also the only way to offer a sustainable solution to the threat posed by AQIM.


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publicado por IPRIS às 12:58
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Quinta-feira, 2 de Setembro de 2010

IPRIS Lusophone Countries Bulletin 10

AUGUST 2010 -- Table of Contents:
Paulo Gorjão, "Portugal and South Africa: Matching words with deeeds"
Diogo Noivo, "AQIM and West Africa: Can Guinea-Bissau become a narco-terrorist platform?"
Gerhard Seibert, "20 years on São Tomé and Príncipe has voted again for 'change'"
Timeline of Events

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publicado por IPRIS às 23:09
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Terça-feira, 27 de Julho de 2010

AQIM strikes again

By Diogo Noivo


Since 2007, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has made the kidnapping of European citizens a recurrent event. Abducted in the Maghreb and in the Sahel, Europeans have become an important source of revenues for the terrorist organization. In fact, AQIM's habit of releasing the hostages after the payment of a ransom made the organization look more like an criminal enterprise (that aims for profit) than a terrorist group (that sees financial resources as a mean, not as an end). This idea was strengthened by the fact that AQIM is deeply involved in trafficking tobacco, drugs and other goods throughout the region. However, if doubts existed about AQIM true nature, the execution of Michel Germaneau (a 78-year-old French aid worker who was kidnapped in Niger in April) certainly re-centered attentions.

Among other aspects, Germaneau's assassination is another strong evidence that AQIM – which, for the most part, is still the old Algerian Groupe Salafiste pour la Prédication et Combat (GSPC) – is definitely moving south and already established a strong foothold in the Sahel region. The visit started today by French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner to Mauritania, Mali and Niger demonstrates that France is well aware of this geostrategic shift. Kouchner's international road tour was accompanied by strong statements at home. Prime Minister François Fillon said that the fight against terrorism is going to strengthen, particularly against AQIM, and President Nicolas Sarkozy said that the crime will not go unpunished.

France's commitment in the region may force the European Union to rethink the way it approaches the Maghreb, especially with regard to EU's Neighborhood Policy. When dealing with North African countries, the EU tends to limit its contacts and negotiations to local political officials, disregarding social groups and their grievances. Despite the specificities of jihadist terrorism, it can not survive without a constituency. Therefore, gaining the genuine support of local citizens is a key element in fighting AQIM. With regard to the Sahel, perhaps highlighting the ethno-racial divide within AQIM (African recruits are kept outside leadership roles, which are held by Arabs) may help to debunk the organization's southern venture.


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publicado por IPRIS às 13:27
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Sábado, 3 de Julho de 2010

AQIM and Drug Trafficking

By Diogo Noivo


António Maria Costa, Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, stated his concern over al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb’s (AQIM) involvement with drug trafficking in Europe. AQIM has been implicated in all sorts of smuggling in the Maghreb: in part, a product of cross-fertilizing criminal groups operating in the region and even further south. In fact, its influence has clearly expanded into the Sahel, as recent attacks demonstrate.

In Europe, AQIM’s presence is noteworthy. The majority of the jihadists arrested over the last few years, usually in Spain and France, had the core of their activities in drug trafficking and counterfeiting documents. However, one should bear in mind that the presence of Algerian jihadists in Europe dates back to the 1990’s.

The jihadism-drug association in Europe is not new either: although not the work of AQIM itself, an important part of the 11th March 2004 bomb attacks in Madrid (perpetrated by Maghrebi terrorists) was financed through what in Spain is called trapicheo – the sell of small amounts of drugs.

With regard to the Latin America-Africa-Europe connection, we have surpassed the realm of speculation: the method is known and some individuals were already taken to justice.

Such context leads us to many considerations. It shows the pragmatism that jihadists have in their alliances of convenience. It also reveals that counterterrorism requires a comprehensive approach. And it reiterates the long known truth that, without an efficient international cooperation, nothing useful will be achieved. For Portugal, this should make us think that in order to have jihadists operating in our soil it is not necessary to have bomb attack plots – a simple drug trafficking network is enough.

publicado por IPRIS às 12:45
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