The Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI) published a short blog post I wrote on revelations from internal al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) documents showing how they integrated into the Tuareg insurgency in Mali. Here’s the introduction to the post and I’ll link to the full discussion here at this link.
At FPRI’s Geopoliticus:
“Don’t feel bad U.S. military, you are not the only force struggling to make better decisions from your lessons learned. Al Qaeda and particularly their Sahel affiliate, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), struggle to improve their operations based on analyses of past failures as evidence in the Associated Press’s (AP) recent publication of AQIM leader Abdelmalek Droukdel’s confidential letter to his fighters in Mali. While an incomplete manuscript, three chapters of AQIM guidance discovered in Timbuktu provide some clarity to al Qaeda’s strategic thinking in a post-Bin Laden era.
Overall, the document echoes many of the recommendations discussed by Bin Laden in the Abbottabad documents and outlined in a previous post “Are today’s al Qaeda offshoots following Bin Laden’s vision?”. Droukdel, like Bin Laden, stresses several important principles to his followers at some point after the June 2012.
- Patience – Droukdel realizes that AQIM’s gains in Northern Mali were fragile and that pushing the implementation of Sharia aggressively amongst a resistant population could short circuit their future Islamic state.
- Integrate with local movements – Droukdel encourages his followers to, “extend bridges to the various sectors and part of Azawad society – Arab, Tuareg, and Zingiya – to end the situation of political, social, and intellectual separation.” Droukdel’s narrative is strikingly similar to that of Bin Laden’s “winning hearts and minds” guidance.
- Learn from mistakes – In Chapter 1 page 3, Droukdel discusses mistakes made by their proxies in implementing Sharia requesting that they avoid the “destruction of shrines” and harsh application of religious punishments. Droukdel, like Bin Laden, does not want to see his troops continuing to make the same mistakes.
In addition to the points of similarity with Bin Laden’s vision, Droukdel provides some rather interesting analysis of AQIM’s situation and future. ….
See the rest of the discussion at FPRI at this link: http://www.fpri.org/geopoliticus/2013/03/al-qaeda-doesnt-follow-its-own-lessons-learned