With Afghanistan, Pakistan and other Middle Eastern countries slowly turning away members of terrorist group Al-Qaeda the agency has begun to move their efforts towards a new region, Africa’s Sahara Desert.
Growing their numbers in the region since early 2006 the group has won over much of the Saharan community by handing out medical aid, cash, food and even candy to small children.
According to the AP the group is growing fastest in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), having raised $130 million from the kidnapping of 50 Western citizens in the region.
Reports state that the group has spread almost all the way across the Sahara and continues to develop new ties with local officials and other sympathizers and groups in need of their resources as extreme poverty continues to be a major factor in Saharan Africa.
In reports about their activities it’s believed that Al-Qaeda members have become “model citizens” for traders since they never haggle and pay full price for goods and they don’t get involved in local politics.
One official says of the groups presence in the area:
“The situation in Mali is they have become locals—they are not foreigners,” and “This is really, really very, very difficult to do, and it makes it very hard to get rid of them.”
It’s not that the group has made new allies, but rather that they may finally have a home where locals are less willing to provide intelligence reports to allied fighters.
Do you think Al-Qaeda’s new approach with a more friendly local appeal posses a great threat in attempting to take down the terrorist organization?
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