Al Qaeda ignores Obama's declaration of the end of war

James Robbins:
Until recently, most Americans had never heard of the west African country of Mali. They may have heard of the Malian city of Timbuktu, but even then only as a byword used to describe the middle of nowhere. However, an Islamist insurgency has thrust Mali into the forefront of the national security debate, and highlighted the continuing complexities of the struggle against violent extremism.

Mali is divided between a French-backed military junta in the south and a coalition of Islamic militants in its northern desert. The country's current strife was the result of unforeseen consequences of the U.S.-assisted overthrow of Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi. In the spring of 2012, local Tuareg tribal mercenaries who had been hired to defend the Qadhafi regime returned to Mali, armed with heavy weapons taken from Libyan stockpiles. They joined forces with al Qaeda of the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM, and seized control of the northern two thirds of the country, declaring the independent state of Azawad and imposing an austere, uncompromising, interpretation of sharia law.

Two weeks ago, French and West African forces finally intervened to contain and push back the insurgency. But they found the Islamist fighters better armed than expected, and offering stiffer resistance. AQIM then shocked the international community by seizing control of a natural gas plant in Algeria and taking dozens of Westerners hostage, including at least two Americans. A botched Algerian military response left more than 80 people dead, including most of the people they were purportedly attempting to rescue.

The gas plant al Qaeda targeted in response to French military intervention in Mali is jointly run by British and Norwegian energy concerns, unconnected to Paris. This gives insight into the terrorist mindset: They consider an attack on any western assets in the region a legitimate response to French actions. All such foreigners in North Africa represent the civilization with which they are waging a holy war. The terrorists explicitly linked their operation to the United States by offering to exchange the American hostages for Omar Abdel-Rahman, the "blind sheikh" now serving a life sentence in North Carolina for plotting terror attacks in New York in the 1990s, and who was linked to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Freeing the blind sheikh has lately become a cause celebre among Islamists, ranging from violent groups like al Qaeda to Egypt's President Mohammed Morsi.
Obama seems to think that everyone will jump when he tells them to.  But al Qaeda started this war and it is not ready to quit it on the say so of a President who is retreating from some of the zones of combat.  They are still at war with the US whether the US is at war with them or not.  Actually the retreat from Afghanistan is going to take away the risks of drone strikes since we want have enough people in Afghanistan to launch them.


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