Al-Qaeda involvement in Africa

Al-Qaeda involvement in Africa

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Al-Qaeda has conducted operations and recruited members in Africa. It has included a number of bombing attacks in North Africa
North Africa
North Africa or Northern Africa is the northernmost region of the African continent, linked by the Sahara to Sub-Saharan Africa. Geopolitically, the United Nations definition of Northern Africa includes eight countries or territories; Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, South Sudan, Sudan, Tunisia, and...

 and supporting parties in civil wars in Eritrea
Eritrea , officially the State of Eritrea, is a country in the Horn of Africa. Eritrea derives it's name from the Greek word Erethria, meaning 'red land'. The capital is Asmara. It is bordered by Sudan in the west, Ethiopia in the south, and Djibouti in the southeast...

 and Somalia
Somalia , officially the Somali Republic and formerly known as the Somali Democratic Republic under Socialist rule, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. Since the outbreak of the Somali Civil War in 1991 there has been no central government control over most of the country's territory...

. From 1991 to 1996, Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden was the founder of the militant Islamist organization Al-Qaeda, the jihadist organization responsible for the September 11 attacks on the United States and numerous other mass-casualty attacks against civilian and military targets...

 and other al-Qaeda
Al-Qaeda is a global broad-based militant Islamist terrorist organization founded by Osama bin Laden sometime between August 1988 and late 1989. It operates as a network comprising both a multinational, stateless army and a radical Sunni Muslim movement calling for global Jihad...

 leaders were based in Sudan
Sudan , officially the Republic of the Sudan , is a country in North Africa, sometimes considered part of the Middle East politically. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the...



An insurgency is being waged by the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat
Al-Qaeda Organization in the Islamic Maghreb
The Al-Qaeda Organization in the Islamic Maghreb, previously known as the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat is a radical Islamist militia which aims to overthrow the Algerian government and institute an Islamic state. To that end, it is currently engaged in an insurgent campaign.The group...

 (which is called today as the al-Qaeda Organization in the Islamic Maghreb
Al-Qaeda Organization in the Islamic Maghreb
The Al-Qaeda Organization in the Islamic Maghreb, previously known as the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat is a radical Islamist militia which aims to overthrow the Algerian government and institute an Islamic state. To that end, it is currently engaged in an insurgent campaign.The group...

) against the Algerian government. It is a spin-off to the Algerian Civil War
Algerian Civil War
The Algerian Civil War was an armed conflict between the Algerian government and various Islamist rebel groups which began in 1991. It is estimated to have cost between 150,000 and 200,000 lives, in a population of about 25,010,000 in 1990 and 31,193,917 in 2000.More than 70 journalists were...

 that ended in 2002, and has been linked to bombings in Algiers
2007 Algiers bombings
2007 Algiers bombings may refer to:*11 April 2007 Algiers bombings*11 December 2007 Algiers bombings...

, Batna
2007 Batna bombing
The 2007 Batna bombing took place on 6 September 2007 in Batna, a town in Batna Province, eastern Algeria. The bombing, which took place shortly before the visit of Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, resulted in approximately 15-20 deaths and 107 injuries as the bomber detonated his device...

 and Dellys
2007 Dellys bombing
The 2007 Dellys bombing occurred on September 8, 2007, when at least 30 people were killed and 47 injured in a suicide car bomb attack on an Algerian naval barracks in the town of Dellys, 100 km east of Algiers. The blast was carried out by two attackers who killed themselves in the attack...

 in 2007.

The group has declared its intention to attack Algerian, French
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, American and Spanish targets. It has been designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization
U.S. State Department list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations
"Foreign Terrorist Organization" is a designation of non-United States-based organizations declared terrorist by the United States Secretary of State in accordance with section 219 of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act...

 by the U.S. Department of State
United States Department of State
The United States Department of State , is the United States federal executive department responsible for international relations of the United States, equivalent to the foreign ministries of other countries...

, and similarly classed as a terrorist organization by the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...



As soon as the allied Somali and Ethiopian forces drove the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) out of Somalia in January 2007, U.S. accused Eritrea of providing safe haven for some of their leadership. America also condemned Eritrea since it continued to "fund, arm, train and advise the insurgents" attacking the Somalia government. According to a regional Somali government, some Eritrean soldiers were also sighted working with Arab and al-Qaeda fighters against the Somalian government, and the foreign alliance attacked government positions.

In 2007 there were reports that the Eritrean government is sheltering the leadership of the insurgency in Somalia. The United Nations continued to report of Eritrean assistance to Somalis with alleged links to al-Qaeda. Accordingly, the UN Security Council said that Eritrea has secretly supplied "huge quantities of arms" to a Somali insurgent group with alleged ties to al Qaeda, in violation of an international arms embargo and despite the deployment of African peacekeepers" adding that it has been "provided to the al-Shabaab
Al-Shabaab (Somalia)
Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen , more commonly known as al-Shabaab , is a terrorist group of militants fighting to overthrow the government of Somalia. As of 2011, the group controls large swathes of the southern parts of Somalia, where it is said to have imposed its own strict form of Sharia law...

 (an extremist group which emerged within the ICU’s armed forces and is led by a kinsman and protégé of the ICU council leader Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, Aden Hashi Farah "Eyrow", who trained in Afghanistan with al-Qaeda before returning to Somalia after 9/11) by and through Eritrea" since December 2006. Sheikh Aweys himself and other members of the Islamic Courts Union who are wanted by the U.S. over suspected links to al-Qaeda (the UN has Sheikh Aweys on a list of individuals "belonging to or associated with" al Qaeda, which he denies) organized a congress
A congress is a formal meeting of the representatives of different nations, constituent states, independent organizations , or groups....

 in Eritrea to strengthen their militant opposition to the Somalia transitional government.


On November 3, 2007, al-Zawahiri claimed in a 28-minute recording posted on an Islamic website that "... members of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group
Libyan Islamic Fighting Group
Libyan Islamic Movement formerly known as The Libyan Islamic Fighting Group also known as Al-Jama’a al-Islamiyyah al-Muqatilah bi-Libya is a group active in Libya which played a key role in deposing Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's regime, allying itself with the National Transitional Council.However...

 announce that they are joining the al-Qaeda group ..." According to al-Jazeera
Al Jazeera
Al Jazeera is an independent broadcaster owned by the state of Qatar through the Qatar Media Corporation and headquartered in Doha, Qatar...

 news service, Abu al-Laith appeared to be the leader of the new Libyan wing. Fighting Islamic Group first announced its presence in 1995, vowing to overthrow Muammar al-Gaddafi
Muammar al-Gaddafi
Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar Gaddafi or "September 1942" 20 October 2011), commonly known as Muammar Gaddafi or Colonel Gaddafi, was the official ruler of the Libyan Arab Republic from 1969 to 1977 and then the "Brother Leader" of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya from 1977 to 2011.He seized power in a...

, the Libyan leader. In 2001, the group was added to a UN list of individuals and institutions "belonging to, or associated with, al-Qaeda".

Abdelhakim Belhadj
Abdelhakim Belhadj
Abdelhakim Belhadj is the emir of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, and a commander of the anti-Gaddafi forces in the 2011 Libyan civil war.- Early life :...

, a prominent rebel commander during the Libyan civil war, in an interview with the Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore
Il Sole 24 Ore
Il Sole 24 Ore is an Italian national daily business newspaper owned by Confindustria, the Italian employers' federation.It was founded on 1965-11-09 as a merger between Il Sole, founded in 1865, and 24 Ore, founded in 1946. The headquarters are in Milan...

 admit that many of his recruits had al-Qaeda links.. One of the major factions within the Libyan National Liberation Army
National Liberation Army
National Liberation Army is the name of several groups:* Albanian National Liberation Army, an Albanian resistance movement during World War II* Armée de Libération Nationale, a liberation movement in the Algerian War of Independence...

 was the Libyan Islamic Movement. The group, formerly known as the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, is well known to have had links to Maghreb faction of al-Qaeda.

On November 1 2011, less than a month after the death of Muammar al-Gaddaffi, the al-Qaeda flag was seen flying off a the roof of a courthouse in Benghazi's city center.

The extent of al-Qaeda's involvement in the civil War is not yet known. Concerns have been voiced about what role MI6 played in collaborating with the Libyan Islamic Movement. The White House Deputy National Security Adviser John Brennan
John Brennan
John Brennan may refer to:People*John Brennan * John Brennan * John Calder Brennan , historian* John Brennan , American football player...

 said "I'm concerned about what is going on inside of Libya because there's been a fair amount of disorder and upheaval in the country", "The weapons stock piles - whether we're talking about missile systems or we're talking about automatic weapons - these are things that we and our European allies are working very closely with the TNC [Transitional National Council] and Libyan authorities to get some control over. It's a big country, there were a lot of weapons depots that were scattered throughout the country and we're working again with the TNC and Europeans as well as the regional states. [...] (we are) very concerned about making sure that we do everything possible to prevent al-Qaeda from acquiring these weapons and threatening them.".

Somalia and Kenya

Activities of al-Qaeda in Somalia are alleged to have begun as early as 1992. The organization's role during the course of the 1992–1994 UN missions was limited to a handful of trainers. Ali Mohamed
Ali Mohamed
Ali Abdul Saoud Mohamed, is a double agent who worked for both the CIA and Egyptian Islamic Jihad simultaneously, reporting on the workings of each for the benefit of the other....

 and other al-Qaeda members purportedly trained forces loyal to warlord
A warlord is a person with power who has both military and civil control over a subnational area due to armed forces loyal to the warlord and not to a central authority. The term can also mean one who espouses the ideal that war is necessary, and has the means and authority to engage in war...

 Mohammed Farah Aidid. Osama bin Laden himself claimed in an interview with ABC
American Broadcasting Company
The American Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network. Created in 1943 from the former NBC Blue radio network, ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Company and is part of Disney-ABC Television Group. Its first broadcast on television was in 1948...

's John Miller
John Miller (journalist)
John Miller is an American journalist and a former government official.He is the former Associate Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Analytic Transformation and Technology...

 to have sent al-Qaeda operatives to Somalia. One of the al-Qaeda fighters present during the interview claimed to have personally slit the throats of three American soldiers in Somalia. Mark Bowden
Mark Bowden
Not to be confused with Mark Bowden, U.N. Resident & Humanitarian Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative for Somalia.Mark Robert Bowden is an American writer and a contributing editor at Vanity Fair. Born in St. Louis, Missouri, he is a 1973 graduate of Loyola University Maryland...

, author of Black Hawk Down, states the terrorist organization did train some of Aidid's men, but they were not personally part of the fight with US forces in the 1993 battle of Mogadishu.

In 2002 another successful terrorist attack in Kenya
Kenya , officially known as the Republic of Kenya, is a country in East Africa that lies on the equator, with the Indian Ocean to its south-east...

 after the U.S. embassy bombing
1998 United States embassy bombings
The 1998 United States embassy bombings were a series of attacks that occurred on August 7, 1998, in which hundreds of people were killed in simultaneous truck bomb explosions at the United States embassies in the East African capitals of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Nairobi, Kenya. The date of the...

, a car bomb attack on a Mombasa resort hotel popular among Israeli tourists claimed the lives of 15 people. The hotel bombing occurred 20 minutes after a failed attack on an airplane, when a terrorist fired an SA-7
Strela 2
The 9K32 “Strela-2” is a man-portable, shoulder-fired, low-altitude surface-to-air missile system with a high explosive warhead and passive infrared homing guidance...

 man-portable air-defense system against an Israeli airliner carrying 261 passengers, which was taking off from the airport; the missile seemingly failed to track its target, nor did it detonate, and landed in an empty field.

Lately, al-Qaeda was also linked to militant Islamic Courts Union (ICU) front in Somalia. It is believed several terrorist attacks were orchestrated from Ras Kamboni
Ras Kamboni
Ras Kamboni is a town in the Badhaadhe district of Lower Juba region, Somalia, which lies on a peninsula near the border with Kenya. American officials have said that it has served as a training camp for extremists with connections to Al-Qaeda; al-Sharq al-Awsat reported in May 1999 that al-Qaeda...

, in the extreme southern tip of Somalia adjacent to Kenya, including the 1998 United States embassy bombings and the 2002 Mombasa hotel bombing. On June 22, 2006, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs
Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of African Affairs
The Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of African Affairs is the head of the Bureau of African Affairs within the American Department of State, who guides operation of the U.S. diplomatic establishment in the countries of sub-Saharan Africa and advises the Secretary of State and the Under Secretary...

 Jendayi Frazer
Jendayi Frazer
Jendayi Elizabeth Frazer is the former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, heading the Bureau of African Affairs. She currently serves as a Distinguished Service Professor at Carnegie Mellon University's Heinz College and Department of Social and Decision...

 announced the U.S. was seeking the assistance of the ICU in the apprehension of suspects who carried out attacks against its East African embassies and a hotel in Kenya. She listed the following persons as suspected of being in Somalia (name and nationality): Fazul Abdullah Mohamed (Comoros), Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan (Kenya), and Abu Taha al-Sudan
Abu Taha al-Sudan
Abu Taha Al-Sudan was a suspected member of Al Qaeda terrorist organization, reported to be an explosives expert....

 (Sudan). When the ICU did not cooperate, the U.S. first financed the rival warlord factions, and then followed with limited air strikes as the ICU rule in Mogadishu fell in the face of Ethiopian Army assault. The Pentagon said a high level al-Qaeda member from the ICU was captured in Somalia and transferred to the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay.

In September 2009 it is thought that the Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan was killed during a military raid in Somalia. He was a top Al-Qaeda suspect and was thought to be responsible for attacks on a hotel in Kenya and on an Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

i airliner in 2002.


In 1991, Sudan
Sudan , officially the Republic of the Sudan , is a country in North Africa, sometimes considered part of the Middle East politically. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the...

's National Islamic Front
National Islamic Front
The National Islamic Front is the Islamist political organization founded and led by Dr. Hassan al-Turabi that has influenced the Sudanese government since 1979, and dominated it since 1989...

, an Islamist group that had recently gained power, invited al-Qaeda to move operations to Sudan. For several years, al-Qaeda operated several businesses (including import/export, farm, and construction firms) in what might be considered a period of financial consolidation. The group built a major 1200-km (845-mi) highway connecting the capital Khartoum
Khartoum is the capital and largest city of Sudan and of Khartoum State. It is located at the confluence of the White Nile flowing north from Lake Victoria, and the Blue Nile flowing west from Ethiopia. The location where the two Niles meet is known as "al-Mogran"...

 with Port Sudan
Port Sudan
Port Sudan is the capital of Red Sea State, Sudan; it has 489,725 residents . Located on the Red Sea, it is the Republic of Sudan's main port city.-History:...

. However, they also ran a number of camps where they trained operatives in the use of firearms and explosives.

In 1996, Osama bin Laden was asked to leave Sudan after the United States put the regime under extreme pressure to expel him, citing possible connections to the 1994 attempted assassination of Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

ian President Hosni Mubarak
Hosni Mubarak
Muhammad Hosni Sayyid Mubarak is a former Egyptian politician and military commander. He served as the fourth President of Egypt from 1981 to 2011....

 while his motorcade was in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Controversy exists regarding whether Sudan offered to turn bin Laden over to the U.S. prior to the expulsion. There is an audio tape (Audio) (Transcript) recording of former President Bill Clinton talking about the offer from the Sudanese government. There are conflicting reports on whether the Sudanese government indeed made such an offer, but they were in fact prepared to turn him over to Saudi Arabia, who declined to take him.
Osama bin Laden finally left Sudan in a well-executed operation, arriving at Jalalabad, Afghanistan by air in late 1996 with over 200 of his supporters and their families.