Al-Qaeda in Maghreb Recruits Locals for Jihad

Jihadist fighters from the Maghreb have increasingly been leaving their countries to take up arms against the Assad regime, while al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) leaders call on them to stay.

al-monitor Evidence is displayed during a hearing for suspected members of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Magreb (AQIM) at a military court in Tunis, June 9, 2012. Photo by REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi.

Topics covered

jihadists, jihad, internationalization of syrian conflict, al-qaeda, aqim

Apr 8, 2013

Signs of a war between al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria have started lurking in the horizon.

Events took this drastic turn after AQIM issued a statement accusing groups that are trying to send jihadists from Tunisia, Morocco, Libya and Western Europe to fight in Syria of coordinating with France and Arab regimes in the Maghreb. These groups are also accused of hindering cooperation with cells working on sending jihadists to Syria by way of Turkey. This is the first time that such tensions have arisen between two branches affiliated with al-Qaeda.

A statement issued by Abu Hazifa al-Gharib, one of the assistants of the leader of AQIM, said that the activity of these networks that are working on moving jihadists from North Africa to Syria was “a French conspiracy, in which the regimes of the Arab Maghreb countries participate in order to keep the largest number possible of jihadists away from the jihad front that has been open for two decades in the Islamic Maghreb. Meanwhile, France has opened a battle front against Muslims in northern Mali.”

A security source noted that several jihadists in Tunisia, eastern Algeria, France and Italy were caught in possession of the statement that was recently issued, titled “The real face of the Crusader conspiracy against Muslims in the Maghreb.” Another statement, entitled “A call to the youth of Islam…who ardently want to immigrate to serve God in the Islamic Maghreb, in general, and in Tunisia, specifically,” issued by Al Andalus Media Productions, the official speaker on behalf of AQIM, stated that the Muslim youth should not travel to serve God without the permission of the command of the jihadist religious men or by direct order from them.

According to the statement, the decision regarding immigration to serve God is not based on personal whims. It is instead reliant on the wise command of the jihadist religious men — meaning here AQIM leaders.

What's more, the statement indicated that “those willing to immigrate to serve God (or in other words, to move to Syria to fight Bashar al-Assad’s regime, in the name of Jabhat al-Nusra) should instead join the jihadist ranks in the Islamic Maghreb. In this region, the conflict is at its peak, and the weight of the war is burdening your jihadist brothers, with the advancement of the French Crusader campaign on the Muslim region of northern Mali or the northern front of Algeria. After over two decades of war on the heretics — who are backed by limitless foreign support — there is now an urgent need for men and ammunition. Your jihadist brothers do not have enough support from their Muslim brothers, particularly those in the neighboring Islamic Maghreb.”

The statement by Al Andalus Media Productions focused on Tunisians — hundreds of whom have travelled to fight in Syria. It noted: “The Islamic Maghreb front today is in desperate need of the support of Tunisians, Moroccans, Libyans and Mauritanians. Jihad in this front — northern Mali — is more worthy of your help due to the aggression on these lands and the front’s need for men.”

The statement also warned that France is keen on waging a silent war, with assiduous attempts to deprive the Islamic Maghreb countries of their jihadist powers. France’s aim here is to paralyze the jihadists on the ground who work with local contingents.

According to the credo of the international al-Qaeda organization, the group’s branches in North Africa, Iraq, the Arab Peninsula or Somalia work freely in the regions under their power. No branch is allowed to meddle with the region of power of another branch.   

Continue reading this article by registering at no cost and get unlimited access to:
  • Al-Monitor Archives
  • The Week in Review
  • Exclusive Events
  • Invitation-only Briefings

More from  Mohammad Ben Ahmad

Recommended Articles

Is Al-Qaeda affiliate expanding attacks beyond Syrian town of Idlib?
Khaled al-Khateb | Islamic State | Jan 12, 2021
IS cells escalate attacks on civilians, regime soldiers in eastern Syria
Akhin Ahmed | Islamic State | Jan 6, 2021
Iraqi government arrests suspects after rockets aimed at US Embassy
Shelly Kittleson | Iran-US tensions | Dec 26, 2020
Three dead in Sinai bombings
Al-Monitor Staff | Armed Militias and Extremist Groups | Dec 18, 2020
Al-Qaeda appoints new North Africa chief after France kills leader
Al-Monitor Staff | Terrorism | Nov 23, 2020