Mauritania’s Terror Timeline

General Ould Abdel Aziz

General Ould Abdel Aziz

The Islamic Empire of Sand (Mauritania), has, since time immemorial been a haven for peace and harmony. Since the American invasion and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, Muslim fundamentalists, aided by Al-Qaeda then infiltrated into Mauritania to cause havoc on Western interests. However Mauritanian security forces penetrated, destroyed and arrested many of them. Among those arrested, are  Abu Walid and his brother Hamada Ould Mohamed Khaîry, Mokhtar Belmokhtar alias ‘ Khaled Abu Al-Abass to name but a few. Tiyib, an expert in explosive in the terror network is on the wanted list of the security forces because of his role in the robbery of a van transporting fifty million ouguiya (Mauritanian local currency) from the Ports Authority and other o crimes.

As for Hamada Ould Mohamed Khaîry; he was arrested in 2006 and put in prison. He, together with Khadim Ould Semane and Ould Habott, escaped from prison but were later caught and put in prison again. They were later judged and surprisingly acquitted for want of evidence. The other militants then secretly left the country.  Among the 35 militants arrested by the Algerian security forces figured nine Mauritanians. El Hadj Dawud and Mokhtar Ould Mahmud were judged and sentenced while seven others await trial.  Tension arises when an American aid worker, Christopher Leggett was assassinated in broad daylight. That was on the 17th of July at Ksar, a populous area in the capital. Al-Qaeda issued a communiqué in which they accused the American of trying to convert Mauritanians to Christianity.

Though the Mauritanian government does not recognise any other religion apart from Islam yet foreigners were allowed freedom of worship. There are two churches in the capital, a Protestant headed by the Americans and a catholic headed by the French. Only foreigners go to these churches. The government reacted quickly by launching vigorous searches for the assailants. They were late caught. One was wounded during the scuffle and the other was arrested without any incidence. Before going further, we should go back to the earlier stage, the making of these terror networks. On the 4th of June 2005, the Mauritanian military base at Lemghetty, situated about 300 kilometres south of Zouerate, the town where the iron ore is extracted. Seventeen soldiers including their commander were killed; seventeen others were wounded seriously during the skirmishes.

On the 24th of December, 2007, at Aleg, in the region of Brakna, four French tourists were killed and the other was seriously wounded. Ghallawiya, in the region of Adrar, on the 27th of December, 2007, three soldiers were killed. On the 1st of February, 2008, the Israeli Embassy was attacked but fortunately enough there were no casualties. At Tourine, few kilometres to the north of Zouerate at Tiris Zemmour, eleven soldiers and their guide were killed. That was on the 15th of September, 2008. On the 15th of December, 2008      , a commando comprising of fifty militants of which twenty were Mauritanians, under the guidance of the ‘Emir of Katiba’, Tareq ibn Ziyad, whose real name is Abdul Hamid Ziyad, went to the north of the country, near the Mali border.. His mission was to capture the fortress of the National Guard situated at Achemim at Hodh Charghi.

The army at Tiris Zemmour got wind of their movement and they headed to confront them.. However they fell into an ambush. Nine soldiers were killed and three including their guide were captured alive. The terrorists executed them horribly. They buried the twelve corpses at Bir Moghrein. That was on the 15th of September, 2008. The military send in reinforcement on the 19th of September, by which time the combatants have left for unknown destination.  Sidi Ould Sidina and Mohamed Ould Chabarnou, the men that killed the French tourists were captured in Guinea-Bissau after crossing from Senegal and Gambia.

They were brought to Mauritania on a chartered flight. On the 2nd of April, 2008, Sidi Ould Sidina escaped from the law court. Searching for him yield positively. The police surrounded a house at Tevragh-Zeina, an area where rich people reside, suspected to host some of the combatants including Sidi. There was an exchange of fire between those inside the building and the police. A police Inspector and two combatants, Ahmed Ould Radhi and Musa Ould N’Déye were killed. Today most of these combatants are in prison. Business goes normally and tourists keep visiting the country. The new president has said that he will see to it that militancy is put into an end.

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