In the news surrounding the Saudi statement on its capture of suspected terrorists over the past six months (see Marisa’s links here and here and here), one thing stood out: 40 Mauritanians were arrested in Saudi’s oil-rich Eastern Province, some (all?) of whom were part of a cell that planned to attack oil installations in the province.
I’ve written before on the repeated blipping of Mauritania on my radar screen and Alle has helped me understand (here and here) the rise of Islamist militancy in that country. But why are so many involved in militancy in faraway places like Saudi and Afghanistan/Pakistan? Why not just join al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb?
(Picture of one of the Mauritanians arrested in Saudi)
Ah, thanks. Glad you liked it. Obviously I enjoy this blog too, a lot.
Why they don’t just join AQIM — my guess. (A.) It’s pretty new, and most Mauritanian Jihadis with name recognition are not (B.) for new recruits, it is not as cool as Iraq, (C.) they are drawn to Jihadism while in Iraq or Saudi Arabia anyway, so it’s actually easier than heading back to Africa and trying to locate your AQIM contact. Salafi radicalism in Mauritania was traditionally very much a foreign import through students & guest workers, from two sources: northern Algeria and Saudi Arabia. Now perhaps Iraq too. In this case, I assume that those 40 were guest workers.
Then again, a second explanation may be that the Saudi sweep wasn’t all that discriminating, or even consciously overdid the arrest to look good to foreign allies. Having found evidence incriminating one Mauritanian, they may well have picked up every other Mauritanian in his neighborhood.
If you are looking for other Mauritanians, there was one in the Sinjar records. See Page 521 of the translated records or case number 624 in the PJ Sage Foreign Fighter database excel spreadsheet at http://www.pjsage.com/products.htm. His name is
Jadu Mamin Ahmad Lu’ubaydi and the interesting points in his record are that he was much older than most at 37 and specifically mentioned that he came in through a Sheikh that was teaching him.