BY JIM KOURI
While the Obama White House insists that Islamic terrorism is on the decline, President Barack Obama and his news-media cheerleaders have had to set aside the talking-points and grudgingly come face-to-face with reality: rebel fighters affiliated with al-Qaeda seized the city of Diabaly in northern Mali on Monday during an intense counter-attack by the terrorists after they were bombed by French aircraft on Sunday, an Israeli counterterrorism official told Law Enforcement Examiner.
There are many Americans who are beginning to recognize that Mali may be the latest front in the global war on terrorism, said the Israeli source, a former U.S. police commander.
On Monday, Jan. 14, 2013, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her department released a warning to Americans:
“Given the spread of fighting into the Segou region, the U.S. Embassy reiterates its warning against any travel within the Segou region. It also advises all U.S. citizens to leave any regions north of and including the city of Segou until fighting has been contained. U.S. citizens who decide to stay in Segou should review their personal security plans, remain aware of their surroundings, and monitor local news stations for updates.
“The U.S. embassy recommends that U.S. citizens in Mali maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to enhance personal security and follow instructions of local authorities. The U.S. Embassy will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates through emergency and security messages.”
The Mali jihadists are believed to be members of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), al-Qaeda’s branch in North Africa that has intensified its terrorist attacks against a weak Mali government. The fall of Diabaly was confirmed by a senior police officer in the central town of Segou, which is not too far away from Diabaly.
The battle over Diabaly marked the latest development on the ground since fighting was unfolded in the past days with the central town of Konna changing hands and eventually recaptured by the Malian army, the Israeli source said.
“It seems that AQIM, which will quite possibly hold a large part of Mali, didn’t get President [Barack] Obama’s memo that claims al-Qaeda is on the decline,” said former police official and intelligence officer Michael T. Snopes.
“Al-Qaeda is powerful in North Africa, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Kenya, Nigeria, Yemen, Pakistan and other countries. They will keep on coming long after the U.S. gives up on Afghanistan,” said Snopes.
Al-Qaeda has operated in the northern section of Mali for nearly 10 years, during the presidency of the dictator Amadou Toumani Toure who was ousted in a coup by the Malian military in March 2012.
During Toure’s presidency, AQIM collected more than $275 million kidnap ransoms from governments paying for the releases of more than 50 European and Canadian hostages kidnapped over the past decade, usually from neighboring countries such as Niger, according to the Israeli source.
Today there are still European hostages being held captive by al-Qaeda terrorists in northern Mali with an expected delivery of another $132 million in ransom money, according to Al Jazzera.
French forces began airstrikes in Mali, a former French colony, four days ago. It has been widely reported France began its air campaign to halt the movement south of al-Qaeda-affiliated extremists, who have held Mali’s northern area since April.
In the United States, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta claimed the United States and its allies have been “very concerned” about AQIM, or al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, “and their efforts to establish a very strong base in that area.”
The secretary said Pentagon officials have been working with regional partners to try to develop plans to confront that threat.
“I commend France for taking the steps that it has,” Panetta stated. “And what we have promised them is that we will work with them to … provide whatever assistance we can to try to help them in that effort.”
Officials from the Stuttgart, Germany-based U.S. Africa Command also are discussing military support with France, Panetta said.
According to American Forces Press Service, U.S. support to French forces in Mali has not yet been defined, but that Army Gen. Carter F. Ham, AFRICOM commander, spoke by phone earlier today from the African continent with the secretary, who was flying to Portugal at the time.
“We’ll continue to work with [the French] to ensure that ultimately we do stop AQIM and that the responsibility for assuring security in that region will be passed to the African nations to provide a more permanent security for the sake of the world,” Panetta said.
The Moral Liberal Contributing Editor, Jim Kouri, CPP, is the fifth Vice President and Public Information Officer of the National Association of Chiefs of Police, has served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. Contact Jim.