IS, Boko Haram, al Qaeda militants train in Mauritania: analysts

IS, Boko Haram, al Qaeda militants train in Mauritania: analysts

PanARMENIAN.Net - The world’s three most infamous terrorist organizations are working together at al Qaeda-run training camps in the Sahara Desert in Mauritania, where dozens of recruits from the U.S., Canada and Europe are being indoctrinated into violent jihad and training for attacks that could expand the so-called caliphate across North and West Africa, analysts say, according to Fox News.

IS (Islamic State, also known as ISIS), Boko Haram and al Qaeda all have links to two camps in the remote sands of the expansive North African country, according to Veryan Khan, editorial director for the Florida-based Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium, which tracks international terrorism and had a source on the ground in Mauritania. The sparsely populated Islamic Republic weathered Arab Spring demonstrations to remain stable, but shares a border with troubled Mali and is not far from Nigeria, where Boko Haram is based.

“The situation in Mauritania is a powder keg very few people are talking about,” Khan said.

At least 80 trainees, recruits from the United States, Canada, and parts of Europe, including France, are known to be training at the camps, according to a TRAC source who visited the camp and obtained documentation. Most of Mauritania's population of roughly 3 million is concentrated on the coast, around the capital of Nouakchott, while the rest of the country, which is the size of Texas and New Mexico, is arid desert and sparsely inhabited. The camps are far from the population centers.

“This is not a travel destination,” Khan said. “The only reason to be there from a Western country is to train for terrorism.”

Signs in English can be seen in videos and photos obtained by TRAC inside one of the main camps at the Maatamoulana Mosque, providing unmistakable evidence of westerners' presence.

“The fear of returning foreign fighters from Syria and Iraq is high, but Mauritania-trained fighters are not even on anyone's radar,” said Khan.

The camp’s leadership was emboldened by the recent release of five notorious terrorists, including the No. 3 man in Usama Bin Laden’s network, all of whom were imprisoned in the Nouakchott Central Prison in the Mauritanian capital, but released following a Jan. 24 prison riot in which two guards were taken hostage and threatened along with their family members with being executed.

“The situation was resolved following negotiations with the public prosecutor and Chief of the National Guards,” Khan said. “The detainees were released on Feb 23 and are free to pursue their jihadist activities.”

Freed were Bin Laden’s chief, El Khadim Ould Seman, and four of his associates who were pedigreed members of the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, a group whose core membership became Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

Ties to both Boko Haram and ISIS are also evident in the camps and in Mauritania.

Eurasia Review reported in 2011 that Boko Haram leader Maaouya Ould Sid’Ahmed Taya acknowledged that the terror group’s militants were trained in Mauritania and claimed that Mauritania “exported” Boko Haram to Nigeria.

There also are links between Mauritania and Boko Haram evident in its interaction with Al Qaeda for training and the supply lines for finance and weapons. In addition, there are recruitment centers and organized crime networks in Mauritania facilitating ISIS expansion in North and Central Africa, Khan said.

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