Burkina Faso attack not first time Canadians have faced African al Qaeda terror

OTTAWA - Even though they are responsible for a string of atrocities and affiliated with the grand daddy of terrorist groups, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb has flown largely under the radar in terms of public perception of extremists.

See Full Article

But that could change in the aftermath of the slaughter of at least 28 people that ended early Saturday at a luxury hotel in the west African nation of Burkina Faso, an outrage that left six Canadians among the dead.

All six were from Quebec and were in Burkina Faso doing humanitarian work.

It's not the first time Canadians have been targeted by AQIM, which has claimed responsibility for the attack. The same faction of the group was responsible for the kidnapping of Canadian diplomats Bob Fowler and Louis Guay in 2009, and its commander - Belmokhtar Mokhtar - is wanted by the RCMP.

Speaking in Peterborough, Ont. on Sunday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau led a moment of silence for the victims and condemned the attacks on the Splendid Hotel and nearby Cappuccino Cafe, which left a estimated total of 28 dead, as a "brutal act of violent terrorism."

He spoke at a restored mosque, which was firebombed in the aftermath of deadly attacks in Paris last November.

His government is facing increased political pressure as the Conservative opposition attempted to link the events in the impoverished nation with the Liberal plan to withdraw CF-18s from the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and refocus Canada's military contribution.

Opposition leader Rona Ambrose, in a statement, demanded Trudeau "end the ambiguity" about the country's role in fighting ISIL and that the latest attack is "proof that decisive action is required to confront this threat."

Defence experts say, other than sharing an overall extremist ideology and a loathing of the west, there is little that al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and the Islamic State have in common. In fact, they can be considered rivals with some important differences.

ISIL controls territory and wants to take the fight directly to western countries around the globe. AQIM - other than a brief occupation of northern Mali - is fractured and generally does not appear interested in governing.

It is considered more a regional player interested in ousting - or influencing - Islamic governments in west Africa, according to experts at the U.S.-based Rand Corporation.

"They'll attack western interested when it suits them," said retired colonel George Petrolekas, of the Conference of Defence Associations Institute.

France, which considers AQIM a more immediate threat, has been carrying on a quiet, mostly effective campaign to identify and disrupt the group ever since beating back their advance by in northern Mali two years ago.

In doing a round of interviews late last year, Harjit Sajjan, the new defence minister, said part of the new government's consideration in its reshaping of the Iraq mission is overall picture of where extremist tentacles have spread in the region.

The example he cited, at the time, was the Islamic State's foothold in eastern Libya.

"We need to look wider than the current threats we face in Iraq and Syria, and it's very important we get this right," Sajjan said, referencing the government's ongoing review.

Although Sajjan didn't mention west Africa by name, Petrolekas said he wouldn't be surprised if the Liberals - in offsetting criticism for pulling jets out of Iraq -considered some form of contribution to the ongoing French mission against AQIM.

It would, he said, be politically saleable in light of the weekend attack and a mission in northern Mali carries with it the added blessing of the United Nations - something that speaks to the Liberal desire to work with multi-lateral institutions.

"This whole terrorism fight is not limited to just one patch of ground," Petrolekas said, noting that the Dutch are already part of a western African mission and that French special forces were brought in to help end the seige in neighbouring Burkina Faso.

"There's ample room for special and conventional forces, let alone we helped the French with the C-17," he said, referring to the Conservative government's use of Canadian heavy-lift transports to move French troops to Mali in the early winter of 2013.

The Rand Corporation, which studies conflicts around the world, has said the successful French intervention in Mali should serve as model for future U.S. expeditionary missions.

At the moment, France has over 3,000 troops spread across five countries in Africa - Mali, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad. They conduct operations to disrupt potential militants threat across the Sahel region.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Security fears grow after latest Burkina Faso coup

    World News CTV News
    OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso - As Islamic extremists intensified their attacks in Burkina Faso earlier this year, coup leader Lt. Col. Paul Henri Sandaogo Damiba urged the West African nation's people to give him until September to improve things as interim president. Source
  • Fewer firefighters mean slower response times, jeopardizing lives

    Canada News CTV News
    In the end, all Brandon Armstrong could salvage was his mother’s wedding dress … and her Bible. Choking back tears, the Sebright, Ont. man describes the fire that gutted his four-bedroom home and ended the lives of two people inside, including his disabled mother. Source
  • Russia seized head of Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, Ukraine says

    World News CBC News
    Ukraine's nuclear power provider accused Russia on Saturday of "kidnapping" the head of Europe's largest nuclear power plant, a facility now occupied by Russian troops and located in a region of Ukraine that Russian President Vladimir Putin has moved to annex illegally. Source
  • Florida searches for survivors, South Carolina waits for daylight view of Hurricane Ian's damage

    World News CBC News
    Rescuers searched for survivors among the ruins of Florida's flooded homes from Hurricane Ian while authorities in South Carolina waited for daylight to assess damage from the storm's second strike as the remnants of one of the strongest and costliest disasters to ever hit the U.S. Source
  • Nord Stream pipeline leak in Baltic Sea could cement Europe's shift to renewables — eventually

    World News CBC News
    Before the Nord Stream gas pipelines under the Baltic Sea sprung massive leaks this week, spewing out tons of methane into the water and atmosphere, Europe had started planning for a long-term future without Russian gas — prompted by Putin's war in Ukraine. Source
  • U.S. judge dismisses Mexico lawsuit against gun manufacturers

    World News CTV News
    MEXICO CITY - A U.S. federal judge on Friday dismissed a lawsuit brought by the Mexican government against U.S. gun manufacturers arguing their commercial practices has led to bloodshed in Mexico. Judge F. Dennis Saylor in Boston ruled Mexico's claims did not overcome the broad protection provided to gun manufacturers by the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act passed in 2005. Source
  • 'Leave immediately' or risk conscription, Canada warns dual citizens in Russia

    Canada News CTV News
    Canadians in Russia who hold dual citizenship should leave the country immediately or risk being conscripted for mandatory military service, the Government of Canada warned in an updated travel advisory on Sept. 29. The updated advisory comes as Russian President Vladimir Putin executes a partial military mobilization that could see as many as 300,000 citizens and reservists sent to fight in Russia’s war in Ukraine. Source
  • Dual citizens in Russia could face conscription, Canada warns

    Canada News CTV News
    Canadians in Russia who hold dual citizenship should leave the country as soon as possible or risk being conscripted for mandatory military service, the Government of Canada warned in an updated travel advisory on Sept. Source
  • Trump fraud lawsuit goes to judge who held him in contempt

    World News CTV News
    The New York attorney general's lawsuit accusing Donald Trump and his company of fraud has been assigned to a state court judge who repeatedly ruled against the former president in related subpoena disputes -- including holding him in contempt, fining him US$110,000 and forcing him to sit for a deposition. Source
  • Officials: North Korea fires suspected ballistic missiles

    World News CTV News
    TOKYO - North Korea has fired suspected ballistic missiles, the Japanese Defense Ministry said Saturday. Further details are still being analyzed, ministry officials said. Japan's NHK national television said multiple missiles fired from the North are believed to have landed in the Sea of Japan and outside of Japan's exclusive economic zone. Source