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How Mali Fell Into Al-Qaeda Control

Updated on January 14, 2013

For five years, the U.S. spent up to $600 million in Africa, including Mali, to prevent the African wing of al-Qaeda from expanding. It started in Somalia but as the Libyan event ended, many of the fighters, who were al-Qaeda affiliated, returned to Mali. These men eventually enlisted in the Mali Army and undetected. Some followed Ansar Dine, a local jihaddist. Ansar Dine already had a group of jihaddist fighters, which basically routed much of the Mali army in the remote areas. This created a mutiny in the government located in Bamako.

The U.S. military thought that they had made the correct choice in Capt. Amadou Sanogo, who was trained by the Special Forces. He was a junior officer and learned the same things as the Americans. When the Mali government became unstable, it was this officer who conducted a coup along with 1,600 well armed soldier followers. In Northern Mali, there were four military units were led by Tuareg tribal leaders, who simply told their men to defect to al-Qaeda because they were feared. Some did, others fled.

A few thousand with weapons and trucks defected to al-Qaeda, Mahreb, the African branch that practices strict Islamic law. The communications from the remnants of the Mali army in Bamako were scant to loyal troops hundreds of miles away at the time of the coup. This led to rumor and rumors lead to fear in frontline soldiers. Rumors were the military had collapsed in Bamako, which had not, it still have 4000 men out of the 8000 man army. But, the chaos created and the lack of information and the approaching jihadists to remote towns sealed Northern Mali's fate. Whatever was left of the Mali army there routed or joined them, opening the door so the Mali desert area, the size of Texas, was quickly taken over by al-Qaeda. The U.S. military picked the wrong man this time. They had no idea he would conduct a coup.

End of story.


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    • expertscolumn profile image

      Stanley Soman 5 years ago from New York

      You are right without a doubt! And guess what the Africans are doing? They are using children and forcing them to fight for them, making even France's attempts and US's attempts to putting down this new rebel group even harder.

      I wrote about Africa's child soldiers hope you read it as well

      thank you for highlighting an important recent cause.