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Reversal of fortune: AQIM's stalemate in Algeria and its new front in the Sahel


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Since 2007, Al‐Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has failed to realise its goals in Algeria, the Maghreb and has never carried out an attack in the West. And instead, driven by a mix of necessity, opportunism, a change of ideology in its leaders and a more favourable operating environment, it has intensified its activities in the Sahel, where it now has the potential to pose a significant and tenacious threat to regional security, stability and development. AQIM is neither a large nor a mainstream movement but it is a capable terrorist organisation within the region, and having intensified its activities in the Sahara and accrued considerable wealth from kidnapping operations appears now to be in an advantageous position to exploit the insecurity wrought by Libyan civil war. The contention of this paper is that there is now a serious risk of AQIM reversing years of stagnation and failure, and reinvigorating the jihadist cause in North Africa in a way that few observers of the group would have foreseen before the Arab Spring of 2011. The Sahel countries are therefore at a critical juncture in terms of terrorism threat and response.
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Document Type: Review Article

Publication date: February 1, 2012

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