“A disproportionate number of terrorist attacks … fail simply because ideological conviction is not sufficient to have technical and operation capabilities,” he says. “What this group is doing is they’re increasing their probability of success by hiring people who understand the terrain, and have the know-how.” 

*****

“Mokhtar (Belmokhtar) is one of the more innovative terrorist leaders,” Pham said. “He’s expanded into Mali and Mauritania and built this nexus of criminal activity which raises money for terrorist operations. Every time after he collects a ransom or some other funding, he plows that money right back into the organization by hiring even better people to handle the next operation, thus ensuring its success.” 

*****

     I found this to be very intriguing, just because this Mokhtar guy is doing some things that will undoubtedly be copied by others.  The ransom game, along with collecting passage fees in drug trafficking zones in Africa, is turning out to be very lucrative for AQIM. As more countries like Spain continue to pay ransoms, groups like this get rich and are able to do more kidnappings and terrorist operations. It is a terror/crime cycle that feeds itself and only gets bigger. Kind of like the whole piracy thing.

    With that said, close protection in these parts of the world should be a top priority of companies and countries that endorse the companies as they work abroad. Every payment made for ransoms, will only make these groups stronger.  So having a means to defeat these hired jijadist mercenaries that conduct these types of operations should be a top priority for companies. I say companies in general, because I could see this type of thing replicated throughout the world and by all types of terrorist organizations.

     Nothing new in the world of terrorism, but as you can see, every once in awhile you get an enterprising booger eater who has figured out a niche. Hopefully France is able to kill or capture this guy and put this group in check.  Spain and these other ‘weak kneed’ countries need to learn as well that paying ransoms will not make the problem disappear. Much like ransoms have done for the piracy game, it will only make these groups stronger, and things worse for westerners operating in these countries. -Matt

When Crime Does Pay: The Threat of an Emboldened al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb

France’s War Deepens With Desert Al-Qaida Ally

An Al Qaeda affiliate getting rich in Niger

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When Crime Does Pay: The Threat of an Emboldened al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb

September 23, 2010

J.Peter Pham, PhD

(the last paragraphs are posted)

……In this context, the resurgence of AQIM should be cause for grave concern—all the more so because the payment of ransoms and the release of jailed militants have given the terrorist group a considerable boost, not just in terms of material and human resources, but also in terms of prestige among extremists. Exacerbating the threat that an emboldened AQIM poses is that its leadership has shown itself to be rather pragmatic in their using the resources which come their way to “professionalize” their operations, that is, employing mercenaries like Omar le Sahraoui and others willing to work for hire for the terrorist organization irrespective of their ideological commitments. The six killed in the failed French raid on AQIM in July, for example, included three Tuareg, an Algerian, a Mauritanian, and a Moroccan. By using personnel who are either trained or who have superior knowledge of the geographic or social space in which operations are to take place, AQIM’s terrorist activities not only stand a greater chance of success, but in the event of failure and capture, authorities do not gain much by way of entry into or leverage with the terrorist group itself. Given how this threat has been evolving, it may turn out to be fortuitous that al-Qaeda’s franchise has provoked what is apparently a rather robust reaction from the French at this time, rather than later after it has had more time to consolidate its position.

Story here.

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France’s War Deepens With Desert Al-Qaida Ally

Sept. 21, 2010

Dana Kennedy

NICE, France (Sept. 21) — More than 80 French counter-terrorism troops in long-range reconnaissance planes are scouring a vast no-man’s land on the edge of the Sahara for seven hostages taken last week in Niger.

It’s the latest battle in what is beginning to look like a deepening war between France and a group that calls itself al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

“France will do everything to free the hostages,” government spokesman Luc Chatel has told reporters, but the French Foreign Ministry said it had not yet received any proof that the hostages are alive or any demands for money from any group.

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