Rolled Up in Azawad

Al-Akhbar recently published a video of a man in his forties, according to the write up, confessing to a number of acts of spying on behalf of Mauritania in northern Mali. He collected names, phone numbers, positions and other information about AQIM in the region. He says he was hired by the head of the Bureau d’Etudes et de Documentation, Mauritania’s foreign intelligence service, Gen. Mohamed Ould Meguet, to work with a commander Hbibi Ould Delloul and a captain Kheiry in collecting intelligence on AQIM in Mali. The write up quotes sources close to Ould Meguet the Mauritanians have not investigated the circumstances of his capture or death and did not attempt to negotiate or otherwise obtain his release. He was eventually executed, according to the report. According to the report his family has received ‘modest compensation’ from the authorities. The article describes the military’s handling of the affair as ‘cynical’.¹

He also worked at the service of the walis (governors) in the eastern provinces bordering Mali scouting for the military, traveled in northern Mali tracking the movements of AQIM and monitoring westerners traveling on the Rue d’Espoir (the Brazilian-build high way that links eastern and western Mauritania, the Highway of Hope). The al-Akhbar report places the video in the context of AQIM’s leaders’ reported purges of Mauritanians accused of spying for the Mauritanian intelligence service, which has been reported on in the Mauritanian and Algerian press; in late 2010 and early 2012 Algerian papers began reporting on paranoia in the AQIM command (mainly Abu Zaid’s katiba) about penetration by Mauritanian intelligence and more recently there are reports that there has been an effort to diversify the southern katibas’ ranks which for some time were dominated by Mauritanians (estimates are that at as many as 70% of AQIM recruits/fighters to particular katibas in the Sahel were or have been Mauritanian).

This comes amid the dispatching of gendarmerie counterterrorism units to the military garrison at Bassiknou as part of an effort to beef up security on the border after plots linked to AQIM were discovered at a border check point; the article describes Mauritanian gendarmes’ efforts to seek out AQIM operatives traveling in civilian clothes, searching for possible operatives in the camps housing refugees from the conflict in northern Mali. “Mopping up operations on the border began on 12 May 2012, according to Sahara Media.

(1) Last month the Mauritanian press reported that AQIM captured a Malian Arab who had been spying on the terrorist group in the Timbuktu region; he was held out in the city as an example and taken off to the outskirts by the group who at the very least beat him severely, according to rumours. He was accused of scouting and relaying information on the positions of AQIM targets in northwestern Mali to the Mauritanian military, in support of their cross border operations there.


11 thoughts on “Rolled Up in Azawad

  1. Saw the link in your Twitter feed on the right. Jeremy Keenan has now finally stripped away all actors except Algerian intelligence from Saharan politics, leaving nothing but one big DRS shadowplay:

    “The circumstances of the original abduction and the subsequent ‘negotiations’ are highly suspicious. Not only is the abducted Consul believed to be a DRS Colonel, but all the groups associated with the abduction and subsequent negotiations are known to have leaders linked with the DRS.” –

    Personally, I’m beginning to think it’s very suspicious that Jeremy Keenan is the only one who has been involved with hostage affairs in the Sahara who is not fingered by Jeremy Keenan as a DRS agent. Seems like the perfect cover!

    • Hehe, good observation. But that would have been earlier; he fell out with the DRS, + a lot of other people/institutions and became PNG in Algeria around 2003. His anger is still driving him, obviously. Pity that his wild ideas get so much attention; he does write well on other things.

    • Me too I saw the link in Kal’s Twitter and I went for this article from Magharebia (since Keenan called Magharebia an officine of the Pentagon, I am careful with its articles) and I went straight to the comment from Yacine. Yassine is saying that even Blaise Compaoré is involved in instrumentalizing these fellas from North Mali. So all these conspiracy theorists can’t be lying all the time!

      Yacine Posted 3 days ago
      To Mr Jemal Oumar- Allow me to make a brief remark concerning the terrorist organisation AQIM in the Sahel. First of all, there is the big boss, the “Emir of the Sahara”, the terrorist Nabil Makhloufi (alias Abou El Kamma). Then there are the subordinates: Mokhtar Belmokhtar of El Moulathamoune Batallion and Ghedir Mohamed (a.k.a. Abou Zeid) of Tarek Ibn Ziad Battallion. Their division is not geographic, as you say, but is according to their “missions”. It was modelled of off the tribal system. El Moulathimoune has an economic function, buying and selling arms, livestock, vehicles, cigarettes and so on. It also works in financing, taking care of the widows and orphans of terrorists, financing smuggling networks and bribing administration and, subsequently, the construction of mosques and schools. As for the Tarek Ibn Ziad Battalion, it has protection as its mission. It is made up of combat unites charged with recruitment, training, gathering information and protecting the all of the AQIM terrorists active in the Sahel. As for the reinforcement of terrorists from Morocco, Tunisia and Libya, AQIM feared that Ansar Eddine and the MNLA would become closer and even that Ansar Eddine and MUJAO would become closer with the supporters of ECOWAS. A fortnight ago, in Kidal, there were negotiations between the “Emir of the Sahara”, Nabil Makhloufi, and Mustapha Chaffiî. Abou Zeid and Iyad Ag Aghaly took part in these negotiations. What they were about, only Blaise Compaoré can tell us. As a reminder, Mustapha Chaffiî, the Mauritanian from the Moroccan Tadjakent Tribe, is the founder of MUJAO. He is also and more importantly, the Special Advisor to the Burkinan president. Things are more complicated than you think. -Sincerely

  2. So, this kidnapping of diplomats is a real one. Not like as some journalists say: the Thévenot family, the 32 hostages and even the Tibhirine monks and some others. Funny how information is sometimes distorted.

    The funnist of all is letting les “barbus” gather in Northern Mali (Tombouctou or Kidal or Gao – I don’t know which), claim a kind of khalifat and no one doing nothing. Where is GWOT gone? Why then establish the CEMOC in the first place? Where AQMI and the rebels get their gas/petrol to run 2-3 armies? I still give credit to what Jeremy Keenan says.

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