With pro-al-Qaeda Islamist militants running amok in northwest Africa in places like Mali and Algeria, seizing territory and taking hostages, it’s far from clear that Team Obama has the foggiest idea of what to do.
That’s not going to cut it.
It’s not like this is a new problem. Unleashed by the conflict in Libya, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and its allies defeated the Malian army in northern Mali almost a year ago, putting the territory under Sharia law.
AQIM, along with militant groups such as Ansar Dine and the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa, not only came to control an area the size of Texas, but recently began pressing toward the Malian capital, Bamako.
Reports indicate that like Afghanistan and Iraq previously and Syria today, Mali has become “Islamist Central,” with foreign fighters making their way there from inside – and outside – the region to battle infidels and build a Muslim “caliphate” (kingdom).
It’s gotten worse.
Expanding the area of conflict, an AQIM affiliate raided a natural gas facility last week in Algeria, taking hostage lots of Algerian and foreign workers, including Americans. (A subsequent raid by Algerian forces was less than successful.)
As we know, al-Qaeda & Co. is an opportunistic organization that looks to take advantage of chaos, lawlessness, ungoverned spaces and weak governments. Some experts warn that Mali and its environs could become the next (pre-9/11) Afghanistan.
We all know what that could mean.
Indeed, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) said: “If we don’t deal with these militant groups and terrorists swiftly and effectively, they will only pose an increasing threat in the future as they already have in Benghazi and now Algeria and Mali.”
American and European officials have reportedly said these terror groups could use Mali as a platform for attacks not only in Africa, but beyond – which likely means at least the United States and Europe.