Will Mali become the Next Terrorist Sanctuary?

In the aftermath of the Mali coup, northern secessionists have declared an independent Islamic state. With verifiable links to Al-Qa’ida, there is a real risk that ‘Azawad’, as it is known, will become the next wellspring of instability and terrorism in Africa.

By Valentina Soria, Research Analyst


The proclamation on 26 May of an ‘Islamic state of Azawad’,[1]  in the northern region of Mali,  came only two months after a military coup that forced former president Amadou Toumani Toure to flee the capital Bamako, plunging the country into a political crisis. The power vacuum left was swiftly exploited by rebel forces to seize a territory the size of France, turning such a crisis into a security and humanitarian emergency. The 26 May announcement indicated that the secular National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) and the Islamist Ansar Dine (also spelt as Ansar Eddine) had apparently been able to reconcile divergent, if not clashing, ideological positions on government. An independent Azawad was first unilaterally declared by the MNLA in April but not backed by their Islamist allies, keen instead on pursuing the more ambitious aim of imposing Sharia law across the whole country. Yet, early attempts to do so immediately after the seizure of key towns in the north were met with firm opposition by the moderate Muslim local population, with MNLA also mostly hostile to the idea.[2]

Thus, last week’s joint declaration seemed to represent a ‘reasonable’ compromise between the Tuaregs‘ quest for independence from the south and the Islamists‘ desire to create an Islamic state. There was no doubting the opportunistic nature of the deal, with each side trying to secure their grip on power in a shared settlement that, although not ideal, must have been viewed by both at least as an acceptable outcome. Yet, its long-term sustainability is already in question, after ‘fundamental differences’ were blamed by the MNLA for the collapse of the deal only a few days later.

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Women and Islam: A Debate with Human Rights Watch


Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

An Egyptian woman looking on during a rally to mark the one year anniversary of the revolution, Tahrir Square, January 25, 2012

To Kenneth Roth:

In your Introduction to Human Rights Watch’s World Report 2012, “Time to Abandon the Autocrats and Embrace Rights,” you urge support for the newly elected governments that have brought the Muslim Brotherhood to power in Tunisia and Egypt. In your desire to “constructively engage” with the new governments, you ask states to stop supporting autocrats. But you are not a state; you are the head of an international human rights organization whose role is to report on human rights violations, an honorable and necessary task which your essay largely neglects.

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Two new statement from the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan


Regarding the Release of Four Turkish Prisoners: 

Sometime ago, on 26.12.2010, the Mujahideen of the Islamic Emirate detained four Turkish nationals who were working for a Turkish company in Pathan district of Paktya province during series of operations. In view of the blessed and auspicious month of Eid-ul-fitre and on the basis of human sympathy, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan released the prisoners at a locality of Organ district of Paktika province today evening at 7.45 o’clock. Meanwhile , on this occasion, the Islamic emirate wants to urge all foreign and local  employees who work for companies and NGOs, serving the interests of the invaders, to desist from cooperating with the invaders because such work on their part contributes to prolongation of occupation of Afghanistan and oppression of the miserable ( Afghan) people at the hands of the invading forces under the leadership of America.

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How Islamist Lawfare tactics target free speech

Middle East Forum Legal Project | Apr 29, 2009
By Brooke Goldstein, Aaron Eitan Meyer

Are American authors who write about terrorism and its sources of financing safe? Are counter-terrorist advisors to the New York City Police department safe? Are U.S. congressmen safe when they report terrorist front groups to the FBI and CIA? Are cartoonists who parody Mohammad safe from arrest?Must a Dutch politician who produced a documentary film quoting the Koran stand trial for blasphemy of Islam in Jordan? Is anyone who speaks publicly on the threat of radical Islam safe from frivolous and malicious lawsuits designed to bankrupt, punish, and silence them? These days, the answer is no.

Lawfare is usually defined as the use of the law as a weapon of war [1], or the pursuit of strategic aims through aggressive legal maneuvers.[2] Traditionally, lawfare tactics have been used to obtain moral advantages over the enemy in the court of public opinion,3 and to intimidate heads of state from acting out of fear of prosecution for war crimes.[4] Al-Qaeda training manuals instruct its captured militants to file claims of torture or other forms of abuse so as to reposition themselves as victims against their captors.[5] The 2004 decision by the United Nation’s International Court of Justice declaring Israel’s security fence a crime against humanity, which pointedly ignored the fact that the fence contributed to a sharp decline in terror attacks, is another example of lawfare aimed at public opinion.[6] Continue reading