Translated by TheMaghrebiNote
In this open Q&A session I picked two questions that will clarify and make clear some of the realities in regards to the strategy of the Jihadis in Mali and also how they view the different groups and their Agendas. Question: Dear Honored Shaykh, Not many people know about the Tuaregs and their nature, and even if there are among them any Islamic Groups that are Salafi Jihadist, or if they are just a group in the desert seeking autonomy and not an Islamic Emirate. What is the truth in regards to this? Did you have a role in the establishment and defense of those new groups? And what are the developments right now? Answer: There is today in the country (Mali) two main Tuareg movements, the first is Ansar Dine (Supporters of the Religion) led by Sheikh Iyad Ag Ghali, may Allah protect him. It is a movement striving to establish Sharia in Mali, and it controls northern Mali which constitutes almost two thirds of the entire area – shared by the secularists from the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) in some cities, and it is a problem that stems mainly from the remnants of Gaddafi. It is a separist movement seeking to establish a secular state over the territory of Azawad with the support and assistance of the French and the Mauritanians. There also exists the Movement for oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) in the city of Gao. As for our relationship with Ansar Dine (Supporters of the Religion), as we have mentioned it before – it is a relationship of brotherhood and assistance and support in good times and bad times and in the establishment of Sharia law. Question: What is your Strategy in the Sahara desert? Answer: We do not have a strategy of our own, not in the Sahara or in other areas. We are a branch of Al-Qaeda, our mother since we gave Bay’ah to it for it to lead the organization, commanded by the directives of the General Command (AQ-Central), and we try as much as we can to implement the duties entrusted upon him in the context of the overall strategy of the organization. But through the virtue of inheritance that we received, it was not easy to develop the efforts within the time limits in an environment where its people already had their own agenda, brought up upon the teachings of sacrificing and defending vigorously to achieve their goals. So it was a must to change the patterns of thought and work, but in the Sahara it was a new front – so it was wise to start finding a protector, housing the Mujahideen and protecting them and giving them security in growing and spreading. Then came the phase of expansion and so we built a relationship with the youth of Jihad and the Muslim people in the neighboring countries – and this has evolved into a co-operation where the effects were first seen in Nigeria and Mali, praise be to Allah. The expansion has given us a strategic dimension, represented in the approach of the stations and centers of the crusaders in the region. The rushed upon how to address the Organization in conference held in Tetra, only to increase the confusion.