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Thursday, August 05, 2010

France Declares War on al-Qaida

Last week, various media outlets reported this news:
"Prime Minister Francois Fillon said France is 'at war with Al Qaeda' after the announced killing of a French hostage by an Al Qaeda affiliate in Mali."

France will step up military and intelligence assistance to North African governments to “track down the terrorists and hand them over to the judiciary,” Mr. Fillon said.
French terror experts say that the latest act of violence reflects an attempt by North African groups to garner attention and resources from more prominent terrorists in Pakistan:
The militant organization [in North Africa] was formerly known as the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat before rebranding itself as Al Qaeda three years ago, and the group has been trying to gain financial and organizational support from Al Qaeda leaders in Pakistan since, who treat the North Africa branch as “a peripheral operation,” [Professor Jean Pierre] Filiu [of Sciences Po] says.
NGO leaders in the area insist that France is mischaracterizing the security threat in the region: Remi Hemryck of Paris-based SOS Sahel International:
"Most of the insecurity is in the northern desert fringe... Here, the main problem is banditry, not Al Qaeda. The Sahel is under a famine which nobody mentions. Fifteen to 20 million people are directly affected."
I've often blogged in the past about state policymakers overstating "traditional" security threats at the expense of human security. This looks to be another instance.

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