ECOWAS nations plot against Al-Qaeda
As Al-Qaeda’s first cell was dismantled last week in Kano city, Nigeria and other West African nations are now plotting to tame the sect as its presence in other West African nations is recurring in security reports on regular basis.
Investigations by Sunday Tribune showed that West African leaders are now coordinating with their colleagues from the Sahel region on how to combat the spread of Al-Qaeda from the Maghreb to the West African states, especially after the discovery of an alleged collaboration among drug traffickers, kidnappers and some elements of the jihadists movement.
Findings within Nigeria revealed that the arrest of a Mauritanian and four other alleged suspects linked to Al-Qaeda in the Maghreb has removed doubts within intelligence communities about the sect‘s presence in Nigeria independent of the Boko Haram group.
While Southern tip of West Africa has not recorded direct Al-Qaeda attacks, recent reports indicated that jihadists have been infiltrating the West African sub region as early as 2007 when three Mauritanian terrorists who killed a French tourist family fled to Senegal.
In 2009, Ghana authorities were reported to have arrested three al-Qaeda suspects on drug trafficking charges, marking the first time that terrorists were themselves tied to drug operations.
Niger, in 2010, was also reported to have extradited Salafist Taqqi Ould Youssef to Mauritania with Niger’s security agencies believing that Youssef was appointed by Al-Qaeda in the Maghreb [AQIM] to create a cell targeting Western nationals in Northern Niger.
Military and intelligence leaders in the Sahel are reported to be working on a security plan that is way beyond the Joint Military and Intelligence Command involving Mauritanian, Mali, Niger and Algeria which they believe has not totally contained the threats from the sect.
According to a leaked security plan by a Maghreb news organisation, Magharebia, the Sahel countries have a new strategic vision to fight back with a security cordon based on concentric rings that begin in the Maghreb and stretch far afield to West and Central Africa.
Quoting a leaked plan, the news organ reported that Mauritania is going to work on co-coordinating Sahel power with African states on two axes: the field states and those behind them.
The states involved are divided into two with the states on the front lines – Algeria, Mali, Mauritania and Niger – expected to work with those further away such as Morocco, Libya and Nigeria.
Algeria, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger are listed as existing partners for the Joint Military Staff Committee of the Sahel Region, while Morocco, Libya and Nigeria are reported to have been invited to attend the security sessions. Tribune