This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Allahu Akbar : Al-Qaeda Proposes and Disposes

"I saw that there was a chaos situation there. Some people had arrived in a diplomatic car. When they arrived, the security that was at the hotel fled away and those people got the time to get in the hotel with their weapons."
Salim, Bamako, Mali

"We were evacuated -- there were many people inside the hotel at that stage. I saw corpses in the lobby."
"I hid in my room and there was knocking at my door saying the security forces had arrived and it was over."
Hotel guest, Radisson Blu hotel, Bamako

"We, in the group of the Mourabitoun, in cooperation with our brothers in Al Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb, the great desert area, claim responsibility for the hostage-taking operation in the Radisson hotel in Bamako."
"[A...cease-fire and release of the hostages] predicated on the release of all the imprisoned mujahedeen in the prisons of Mali and the cessation of the aggression against our people in the north and center of Mali [can be arranged]."
Algerian Mokhtar Belmokhtar, chief of Al Mourabitoun
Security officials pose in front of the Radisson hotel in Bamako holding a jihadist flag they say belonged to attackers. (Joe Penney/Reuters)

They're jostling anxiously to take credit for this newest massacre, the group calling itself Al Mourabitoun, an al-Qaeda breakaway (which came to wide public notice when it mounted a large terrorist attack on the In Amenas oilfields in Algeria in 2013 which left 40 hostages and 29 attackers dead), and another jihadi group, the Saharan Emirate of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb led by Yahya Abu Hammam, whose favourite enterprise is the kidnapping of Westerners for profit.

When Islamist terrorists took advantage of Libya's disintegration after its civil war and the resulting availability of the country's weapons arsenals, Mali became a target, and France, its former colonial master, rode to the rescue to try to rescue the ousted democratically elected government. They succeeded to a degree but the jihadis remain in Timbuktu, and the AQIM operates with virtual impunity from that ancient city.

The collaboration between the two groups to effect the attack on the Radisson Blu hotel, considered to be the most heavily guarded in Mali and where foreign visitors, diplomats and newspeople tend to stay, resulted in the killing of about 27 people. The assault which began in the early morning went on for hours, sending the 170 guests in the hotel at the time into a panic of fear. French commandos aided local security forces to eventually clear the hotel of guests, floor by floor, and it took a full dozen hours to do so.

France retains 1,450 troops in Mali; the largest group of Western expatriates in Bamako are French citizens. Driving a vehicle with diplomatic license plates, the attackers exited the car and three gunmen fired weapons killing two hotel security guards, influencing the remainder to flee for their lives and leaving the hotel guests and personnel to fend for themselves. Security forces surrounded the hotel in short order.

"In response to a request by the Malian authorities, the defence minister has decided to send a unit of special forces" stated a French government official of the special forces unit arriving from a base in neighbouring Burkina Faso. Paramilitary officers from Mali's gendarmerie and local security forces prepared to enter the hotel, while inside, the gunmen, moving from floor to floor challenged hotel guests to recite the invocation of Muslim faith. 

Those who failed the test were shot. The lobby, hallways, or rooms of the hotel held the dead. 

Malian forces and the French decided they would enter the hotel under siege and by noon they were inside, themselves going "floor by floor", to clear the hotel of its guests. As the security forces were busy escorting guests out of the hotel the attackers continued their prowling of the upper floors. There were foreign guests from China, France, the United States and Russia. 

Four Belgians were also registered at the hotel, and Geoffrey Dieudonne, a government official, there to help train Mali's civil service, was among the dead.

According to a Guinean guest, the attackers were heard to speak English, with Nigerian accents. "I heard them say in English, 'Did you load it?', 'Let's go'", said Sekouba Diabate. 

Fighters from Boko Haram, the terrorist group spreading chaos and slaughter in Nigeria are known for having gone to Mali to join al-Qaeda. The jihadis find great appeal in gravitating toward the groups known to have realized the greatest success. The challenge among the premier groups in Islamist jihad is for each to demonstrate that they represent the more successful threat to the West.

Al-Qaeda is differentiating itself from Islamic State. It boasts that it slaughters only non-Muslims, while ISIL takes no such care. When the assaults took place on the Kenyan university and the Westgate shopping mall in Kenya, as well as the Algerian gas plant by affiliates, an element of care was taken to differentiate Muslims from non-Muslims, and to spare the lives of Muslims, in contrast to ISIL's proclivity to murder whomever it pleases.

This tactic elicits praise and admiration from its online supporters. One response to the querying of Muslims and the demand they recite Quranic verses and sparing their lives was a praise of the "lions" who engage in this separating out of the faithful "to protect the inviolable blood of Muslims". Another supporter stated: "This is how Muslims SHOULD act"; the Islamic State "should learn a thing or two and drop their crooked creed and methodology", leaving the slaughter for non-Muslims alone.

Dreadfully encouraging. This is Islamic honour at its finest.

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