Monday, March 12, 2012

My 130 days in the hands of al-Qaeda's African "monsters", by former hostage - Telegraph

My 130 days in the hands of al-Qaeda's African "monsters", by former hostage - Telegraph

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Kidnappings of Westerners have fueled debate among securocrats as to whether our AQIM captors might simply bandits flying an Islamic flag of convenience. I know that to be the wrong answer. Our kidnappers were utterly focused religious zealots who believed absolutely in their cause. They sought to expel Western infidels from Muslim lands and to destroy what they saw as apostate Western-stooge governments who were usurping God’s purposes across the Muslim world. The concepts and ideals we hold most dear were anathema to them: liberty, freedom, justice, democracy, human rights, equality between the sexes — all matters which they considered to be the exclusive province of Allah.
Our kidnappers were certain, they would prevail, but whether it took 20, 200 or 2,000 years was of no consequence. God’s will would be done.
Their objective was to establish a 7,000 km wide caliphate, stretching from Nouakchott in Mauritania to Mogadishu in Somalia, to be ruled by stern Allah-fearing Islamic sages who could be relied upon to understand and execute God’s will. AQIM believe that by replicating across the Sahel the chaos and anarchy caused by their Al Shabaab colleagues in present day Somalia, they will be creating the perfect growth medium in which their vision will flourish.
In the face of the murderous rampage of Boko Haram in Nigeria over the past year, which included the bombing of Nigerian police headquarters in Abuja and the destruction of UN headquarters, many hundreds have been killed (thousands over the past decade). There seems, though, to be a reluctance to believe that it is all part of the same jihadi movement. Many want to believe that Boko Haram is different, somehow less dangerous than Al Qaeda’s other African affiliates. While I understand the reluctance to acknowledge that Al Qaeda might have won a solid foothold in Africa’s most populous and important country, again, I know that to be the case. One of my captors was a young Nigerian from Kano; clearly what we would call an “exchange officer.”
The threat to the stability of the northern half of Africa posed by militant jihadi Islam is present and real. It has been exacerbated by the fall-out from our Libyan adventure, which has caused weapons in untold quantities to spew across one of the most fragile parts of the world. Not only do Al Qaeda’s predations endanger the development gains of the past half-century in the upper part of Africa, but chaos there will very directly impact Western Europe as human emergencies of immense proportion bloom, and illegal refugee flows multiply by orders of magnitude. Our African friends need help to defeat such a scourge, and we, throughout the West, need to get a lot more serious — and very quickly - about discouraging the Saudis and Gulf States from their generous funding of radical Salafist madrassas across the world, and most immediately in Africa where they are providing the recruits toAl Qaeda’s African franchises.....

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