From need to greed through creed : the transformation of Al Qaeda terrorism in the Islamic Maghreb and the Sahel.
Chelin, Richard Phillipe.
MetadataShow full item record
AQIM appeared on the Algerian landscape in 2007 after the merger between Al Qaeda and the Salafist Group for Call and Combat (GSPC) with the objective of expanding its existing network in North Africa and the Sahel region. Within a relatively short period, AQIM adopted Al Qaeda tactics of suicide bombings targeting foreign institutions. It rapidly grew into one of the most dangerous terrorist groups operating in North Africa. Forging links with other militant Islamist groups such as Boko Haram, Al Shabaab and Ansar Dine, AQIM became an influential player within the terrorist network of that region. Pressure from security forces in Algeria propelled the group to seek refuge in Mali where the 2012 conflict provided a safe haven for the group. Operation Serval launched by the French military in 2013 dealt a severe setback to AQIM since many of its fighters were killed and others dispersed to other parts of the region. From that period onwards, there has been a reduction in terror attacks and bombings. Yet, an increase in kidnapping of foreigners for ransom coupled with drug and contraband trafficking signalled a transformation in the modus operandi of the group. In trying to understand this trend, the study employed a qualitative method of data collection to examine the AQIM phenomenon. This involved applying the crime-terror paradigm in order to assess the evolution of AQIM from a terror group with political and religious intentions into a group engaged in criminal activities with economic motivations. Using desktop research and document analysis the study made concerted efforts to understand the causes and motivations of AQIM with the view to contribute towards formulating counter-terrorism measures that are more effective to address the threat of terrorism in the Sahel and North Africa. The findings of this study revealed inter alia that AQIM is a hybrid entity that displays both terrorist and criminal motivations which are determined by the context within which the group finds itself. One of the recommendations of this study is that concerted effort towards effectively countering the threat of terrorism is needed in order to ensure a holistic approach towards engaging this terrorist threat. In this regard, any strategy should include inter-regional information sharing among states and the creation of a joint commitment of forces in the Sahel with the aim of undertaking joint transnational operations along the borders. By so doing, terrorism could be contained even if it is not completely annihilated.