Recently reported by witnesses in the north-western Mali and in an area near the country of Mauritania, Al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) seems rooted in the Sahara, even though some predict its weakening after the death of Osama bin Laden.
- These days, men posing as members of AQIM have landed on a market day at Tichist, which is located 100 km north of Timbuktu (northern Mali), witnesses said to an AFP journalist.
- Arrived in a dozen vehicles, they made purchases, distributed veils, clothes and food, asking people to pray for bin Laden, leader of Al Qaeda killed in early May by the U.S. elite soldiers in Pakistan.
- "They told us that Bin Laden is now in paradise," they would avenge his death," said one such witness, a shopkeeper. They then left as they came.
- Same scene on May 17 in the market of Zouera, another desert town of Timbuktu region, where they came in some twenty vehicles containing heavy weapons.
- "It's the return of the Islamists in the Sahara," while they had shown low profile since a few months following the intervention in July 2010, of the Mauritanian army in the area, says a regional elected on condition of anonymity. "Since the end of Mauritanian patrols, they come back, probably with ulterior motives," he added.
- AQIM, which has its roots in Algeria, has several bases in Mali where it operates in several Sahelian countries (Mauritania and Niger in particular), committing bombings, kidnappings and various illegal trades.
- The Rest @ ennhar online