Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

No strategy and a beige suit

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 29 August 2014 (part 2)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 29 August 2014

Read more

ENCORE!

Alain Choquette: A Hilarious Magician in Paris

Read more

FOCUS

France welcomes Iraqi Christian refugees

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Emmanuel Macron: A new economy minister with a pro-business agenda

Read more

THE OBSERVERS

More of this year's best Observers stories

Read more

#TECH 24

Changing the world, one video game at a time

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Socialist Party summer conference kicks off in explosive atmosphere

Read more

  • Austerity battle overshadows French Socialist’s annual rally

    Read more

  • Besieged UN peacekeepers battle Islamists in Golan Heights

    Read more

  • Kerry calls for 'coalition of nations' to battle IS militants

    Read more

  • EU leaders meet in Brussels to seek a response to Russia

    Read more

  • Lesotho PM Thabane 'flees after 'military coup'

    Read more

  • Ukrainian plane with seven on board crashes in Algeria

    Read more

  • Exclusive: Fabius warns Russia of more sanctions

    Read more

  • IMF backs Lagarde amid French corruption probe

    Read more

  • Ebola drug ‘ZMapp’ heals all monkeys in study

    Read more

  • British killer escapes from French psychiatric hospital

    Read more

  • Police hunt for British boy with brain tumour taken to France

    Read more

  • Ukraine to relaunch NATO membership bid

    Read more

  • Suriname leader’s son pleads guilty to courting Hezbollah

    Read more

  • Mapping Ukraine: Canada and Russia in ‘tweet for tat’ row

    Read more

  • France shines in IMF list of world’s promising economists

    Read more

  • Chelsea’s Torres set for AC Milan switch

    Read more

  • First case of Ebola confirmed in Senegal

    Read more

  • Obama has 'no strategy yet' against IS militants in Syria

    Read more

  • Netflix to woo French with ‘House of Cards’ set in Marseille

    Read more

  • French businesses ‘hoping for a new Thatcher’

    Read more

  • The deleted tweets of Manuel Valls

    Read more

Africa

Rare video of al Qaeda fighters in North Africa

Video by FRANCE 24

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2010-06-11

FRANCE 24 has obtained exclusive video images of al Qaeda-linked fighters in northern Africa. The footage offers a rare glimpse of the daily, often mundane, lives of the Islamist insurgency.

A video cassette obtained by FRANCE 24 contains rare images of Islamist militants in the remote Sahel desert. The exclusive footage shows a gathering of allied insurgent groups, training sessions for young recruits and, perhaps most interestingly, scenes of daily life and leisure of fugitive fighters.

The cassette was found on a defector of one of the insurgent groups active in northern Africa under the banner of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM. The defector was stopped by security personnel for a control of personal documents.

The footage was originally shot somewhere in the Sahel, a large geographic region that divides the Sahara desert in the north and the Sudanian savannas in the south.

The images are not dated, nor do they offer clues about what country they were taken in. What they do offer is a rare, unscripted glimpse of the lives of Islamist militants; in their daily chores, during moments of playfulness and boredom.

Photo-booth session

The images do not appear to have been shot for any specific purpose. Rarely do the subjects of this “home video” carry guns or ammunition. They do not display their war-making machinery or make threats to the West under face-concealing scarves.

A man lazily reads the Koran while another listens to the radio. Many are teenagers, between 16 and 20 years of age. Their accents suggest that they come from varied origins – they are Algerian, Moroccan, Mauritanian, among other nationalities.

Later, a group takes part in a photo session, presumably creating ID photos for fake documents. In another scene shot at night, men gather, greet each other and ask about other fighters.

There is also time for light-hearted wrestling and drills. But the exercises evoke summer camp games rather than boot camp. Among the troupe is a man in a black turban. He is Algerian-born Mokhtar Benmokhtar, a prominent AQIM leader. He is nicknamed Laâouar, or “the blind” in Arabic.

Hostages for headlines

AQIM emerged in 2007 from the Salafist GSPC movement which battled Algerian security forces during the 1990s.

After years waging a campaign of suicide bombings and ambushes in Algeria, the group shifted a large part of its activities south to the Sahara desert — using the politically volatile and sparsely populated area as a safe haven.

In recent months the group has captured headlines over its abduction of Europeans. In June 2009 AQIM killed British hostage Edwin Dyer, and in February released French hostage Pierre Camatte.

The release of the Frenchman in Mali, after four months of captivity, was apparently the result of a prisoner swap that angered Algeria and Mauritania.

Algeria, which has been fighting Islamist insurgents for years, is fiercely opposed to any deals being struck with AQIM to secure the release of foreign hostages, saying they strengthen the rebels.

Mokhtar Benmokhtar, the leader identified in the video, is still holding two members of a Spanish NGO hostage.

Date created : 2010-06-10

COMMENT(S)