from Africa in Transition

French President Suggests al-Qaeda Links in Northern Nigeria

December 21, 2012

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Sub-Saharan Africa



Terrorism and Counterterrorism

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President Hollande said on December 21 that the French national kidnapped in northern Nigeria was the victim of an armed group that “no doubt has links with  al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM)... who are now in Mali.”  Hollande’s administration sponsored and pushed hard for the UN Security Council resolution passed unanimously on December 20 authorizing West African intervention in northern Mali.

Alas, it is credible that the gunmen who kidnapped the French expatriate and killed two Nigerian guards do have links to radical Islamist groups in Mali.  Nigeria’s indigenous radical Islamic insurrection against Abuja is diffuse, or fragmenting.  In some parts of Nigeria’s North, law and order has broken down almost entirely. It is plausible that some group has indeed established links with AQIM, a group that has long kidnapped Europeans in Algeria and elsewhere in the Maghreb.