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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

AQIM Recruiting Story

This an account form an excerpt of ar ecent Vanity Fair Article, which describes an al Qaeda in Maghrabeia. (AQIM ) recruiting visit, told in the words of a local Imam in Timbuku, Mali.


One night in January 2006, two four-wheel-drive Toyotas arrived at Alwoidu's mosque carrying seven men, most of them in their 40s. Two were Palestinians, two were Algerians, and three were Pakistanis. They'd begun their drive in Morocco, headed south along the Atlantic coast to Mauritania, and then turned east into the thick of the Sahara.

"They were recruiters, and came looking for people to integrate into their radical way," says Baba Darfa, a member of the Wahhabi mosque. "When they arrived, they gathered us together and told us that their mission was to fight against the enemies of Islam—the Americans and the British. They told us, 'Your brothers are dying in Iraq. Americans are killing them because they are Muslim.'"

The men spent 11 days in Timbuktu, moving from mosque to mosque, spreading their message. They gave Darfa more than $3,000 to change at a local bank, an amount equal to more than six years of income for the average Malian citizen. "And that was only to get around town and buy food," Darfa says. "They were very rich—they handed money out to people after prayers. They were careful not to use the words 'al-Qaeda,' but they encouraged everyone to join the jihad against the United States."

Then one morning they were gone. "They disappeared in the middle of the night," says Darfa. "It wasn't until three days later that we realized they had taken two boys with them. They were the kids who had run errands for them the whole time they were here."

The boys were 11 and 14 years old, students in the Koranic school at the Wahhabi mosque. Their parents said nothing to authorities for fear of being labeled as extremists themselves, but one of the fathers believes the boys were sent to Pakistan under fake passports arranged by the recruiters, Darfa says.

Bilal Traore, a 27-year-old high-school teacher in Timbuktu who has nearly 400 students, has been watching boys disappear from his classrooms in recent years.

Read the much more extensive Article by Austin Merrill.

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