Training Camps in Mauritania

Regular readers of Jihadica know of my long-running interest in Jihadism in Mauritania (go here for a great blog about the country).  Recently, a German intel chief remarked that al-Qaeda has moved all of its training camps from Af-Pak to Mauritania and is planning to launch attacks on Europe from there.  The movement of all the camps to Mauritania can’t be true–AQ has a good thing going in Pakistan with the modular camps they set up, which, I’m told, are indistinguishable from the air from normal houses in enclosures.  Nevertheless, it makes sense for AQIM to increase training in Mauritania now that Iraq is drying up.  They’ll have more manpower, more money, etc.  From there, operatives can move north to Europe via Morocco and to the east along the Sahel.  That there are rebellious tribesmen (the Tuareg) and well-grooved smuggling networks is an added bonus.  If there is to be a redoubt for a second front, Mauritania looks like

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Mauritania Again

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)

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Mauritania on the Horizon

Ekhlaas member moutagha asks “What is the reason that Usama mentioned Mauritania in his latest speech?” He notes that it was well after al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb attacked the Israeli embassy in Mauritania in February 2008 and after Jihadis killed four French tourists in December 2007. Although moutagha does not receive any good responses to his query, his question did remind me of something strange I noticed when reading Zawahiri’s Exoneration. In it, Zawahiri goes on at some length about the large numbers of Mauritanian scholars and seminary students who have come to visit Bin Laden and support his cause. I don’t know enough about North Africa or Jihadi-Salafism in Mauritania to understand this dynamic, so I’m left with moutagha’s question: why Mauritania? Document (Arabic): 5-29-08-ekhlaas-why-mauritania

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