RE: Mauritanian AQIM Members, General Information

Below are five graphs showing basic information about the twenty-one Mauritanian members of AQIM known to have been killed in action; the information is pulled from the forums. One of the men traveled to Iraq before dying in a skirmish in Tunisia; others became political and religiously conscious while studying in Tunisia or Jordan. More information (i.e., charts/spreadsheets and graphs) will be added to this post over the next week. In the meantime, the graphs below should provide food for thought. UPDATED

First is concerned with KIAs (“killed in action”) over time:

2008 and 2010 lead the way with 7 and 8 deaths each; 2009 saw only 3 Mauritanian members died and 2005-2007 each had one. From 2005 to the present there have been 21 Mauritanian members of AQIM killed in skirmishes, accidents and suicide attacks.

Next is a chart showing the “cause of death” referring to the method or circumstances of the members’ deaths. Suicide bombings are listed as “suicide attacks,” all instances where a member was killed in a fight by the “enemy” (government forces, militia, police, etc.) are classified as “skirmishes” and all other modes of death are classified as “other” (these include car accidents while in custody and stepping on land-mines outside of “combat”). Skirmishes claim by far the largest share (15 of 21 or 71.42%) followed by suicide attacks (4 of 21 or 19.04%) and then all others  (2 of 21 or 5.52%). The graph below shows how this is distributed between countries in the Maghreb and Sahel.Here “NIG” refers to Niger; “MAUR” refers to Mauritania; “ALG” refers to Algeria; “TUNIS” refers to Tunisia; and “MALI” refers to Mali.

Below is another graph showing the Mauritanian AQIM members’ places of death; this does not refer exclusively to kills by governments but includes all AQIM member deaths among the 21 Mauritanians.

Mauritania and Algeria are most common places of death, each with 7 (each with 33% and 66.6% together). Mali comes in second with 4 (19.04%). Mauritania has suffered half of the suicide bombings perpetrated by Mauritanian AQIM members, which seems to make sense. All of the suicide bombings took place during or after 2008 (in fact only in 2008 and 2010).

The next graph deals with provinces of origin in Mauritania. Some of the men’s background is not totally clear; three of them are classified as having “unknown” origins of yet (this can be adjusted with more research). The remote origins of the men from Nouadhibou and Nouakchott can likely also be found out eventually. More of the men came from Trarza than from any other province by far (8 0f 21 or 38.09%); the next most common was Brakna (3 of 21 or 14.28%) followed by Adrar (2 of 21 or 9.5%). Four of the Trarza men were mentioned in an earlier post and the province is a popular scene for many Salafists and hardcore religious types who have made fast inroads into the mahadhras (religious schools) and are mostly peaceable but some have made associations with AQIM.

Additional charts will look at what information is available about the men’s education, foreign travel, tribal origins and so on.

UPDATE I: Here is the list (spreadsheet) from which the data in the above graphs is taken. “U” means “unknown/unclear”; an updated sheet with tribal and age information (hopefully more) is forthcoming.


6 thoughts on “RE: Mauritanian AQIM Members, General Information

  1. Big merci Kal. This is necessary to know more. No one never counted the number of Mauritanian dead among AQMI. Interesting to know that 8 of 21 come from Trarza, the home of both Tawassoul Chief Mansour and his probable spiritual leader Dedew. No link assumed here, but hard fact. Ould Hmednah is from Atar and therefore Adrar should have 1: checking the spreadsheet again. Very useful and thanks again.

    What do you think aof the abduction in Arlit? Difficult to believe that security at the AREVA site was so lax after what happened to Germaneau. This is amunition to conspiracy theorist like myself. Looks like it is well premedited and a corridor was left open to the kidnappers to reach Northrrn Mali, either via Mali or via Algeria. I don’t believe that the Malian and the Algerian military are so incompetent to let the abductors pass through like in the case of Germaneau and his driver! As always from the start of this mess in 2002, something is fishy. Our stange bedfellows fighting against WOT are playing some game. Are they contemplating the militarization of the area? Questions that need answers and I frankly don’t see what use to spend millions of dollars from US taxpayers (and the French) to get not a single salafist or localize them, before or after ransom payment. If the responsibilty of fighting terrorism is left only to the Mauritanian army, Ould Abdel Aziz is being trapped by his supposed friends.

    • Am working on a new spreadsheet/graph set hopefully to put up by this weekend or Monday with more data.

      RE: Arlit and the lack of action by the US. Remember that the US is fatigued right now. They are focusing on discret activities rather than things that would link them publicly to any thing that might look like a failure (because of Afghanistan, the political culture, etc.); and they are more interested in east Africa because of the shipping lanes around the Gulfs and the Horn. They see this neighborhood as being France’s backyard and they are trying to provide support (intelligence, logistics, etc). French are carry on big now also. Mauritanians are doing their thing. Algerians are getting nervous and irritated but focusing on their own side. AQIM is weakening in my view but still a problem. We’ll see.

  2. So, I’m new to the blog, but I have to say it is one of the best things I have read in many months. I am traveling to the region, Northern Africa and the Sahel, regularly for business and try to stay informed. Why is it that Mauritania is so important to the Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb? Is there the same problem in Western Sahara?

    • Mauritania is important to AQIM’s strategy because, as a state, it is very weak and because its message has the potential to resonate more there than in the other countries in the region as an Arabophone country with a small religious movement and a government with legitimacy questions. The Western Sahara has been generally insulated from the AQIM problem but there are some youth that have been recruited and have been arrested but these reports have generally been wildly exaggerated by certain media types for political purposes. All the countries in the region face similar economic and social woes that AQIM is attempting to graft itself onto with more success in the northern Arabic/Tuareg communities than anywhere else because of their links to smuggling, with limited though important successes.

      Unrelated: Should also note, if I did not make it clear enough in the post itself, that these numbers are only AQIM members that are Mauritanian nationals and have died. Not living ones or areas of operation/attack, etc.

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