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  #31  
Old 13 Feb 2010
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A few weeks old now, but I also came across this interesting article about those three guys arrested in Ghana. If you get as far as the Bronx analogy at the end, it has a ring of truth to it.
US Arrests Malians in Terror Drugs “Link” « Maghreb Politics Review

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  #32  
Old 21 Feb 2010
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Five Algerians were arrested in the Kidal The four members of the GSPC released the same day were taken to Gao and given to negotiators appointed officials of the President, who were meeting with Abu Zeid, a terrorist leaders. Two South American planes were unloaded cocaine in recent days. Local sources accuse people close to the Malian presidency.
El Watan :: 21 février 2010 :: Cinq algériens arrêtés �* kidal�*: QG d’Al Qaîda et barons de la cocaïne au nord du Mali

Googonisch - E

Ulrich
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  #33  
Old 21 Feb 2010
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The article posted by Ulrich in El Watan paints a very murky world. But in many ways the content of the article helps us to understand things.
Mali is a very poor country, among the 10 poorest in the world. The real riches of the country in the form of mineral wealth is not something the population can get their hands on. But drug smuggling is. Ten tons of cocaine might have a street value of about 400 million dollars. Imagine the way the presence of this stuff distorts the economy of a place where very, very little is produced and where per captia income may be less than 1000 dollars a year. Its not surprising that officials and local population alike become involved. And therein is the problem - there is no plausible appetite to shut down the smuggling - not given the huge wealth to hand. Also, the skills needed to move the stuff are the skills that locals have - criss-crossing the desert is what they are particularly good at. Mix in a bit of AQ-IM and its hard to see how this lot is going to be dismantled. There's no will and probably no capability.
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  #34  
Old 21 Feb 2010
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Interesting article - well spotted Ulrich.

planes carrying drugs .... landed last February 6 in the circle of Kita ... 360 km west of the city of Timbuktu

Unless it was just a refuel or something, if coke planes are landing at Kita - actually 1000km southwest of Tim but only a couple of hours by road out of Bamako - that does not bode well for security in southwestern, non-desert Mali either.

The other spot mentioned, SE of Tin Zawatine (where Alg, Niger and Mali borders meet), is a more likely location for such goings on.

If Malian state officials are in on this business (and in that country who else would have the power/be allowed to get away with it?) then as RW says, "its hard to see how this lot is going to be dismantled", even if Alg claims to be gagging to do something about it. I read somewhere that they are putting the pressure on in the Kabylie/Tizi Ouzou regions of NE Alg and so AQ are getting stuck in in north Mali.

It was interesting too that the article pointed to AQIM bases NE of Gao in Mali (directly below Tin Zaw). Although it may be fairly obvious - water, shade, isolation and a dodgy zone even before AQIM etc came on the scene - after a long time wondering it's the first time I've seen such a clear pointer and explains the nearby grabs of Fowler, the Edwin Dyer party, and the recent French guy at Menaka, and even the reported attack in Tahoua (Niger) a couple of months back. Is it any wonder those Saudi hunters in that area got nailed?

So we know where not to go, but it's still a long reach over to the highway south of Nouadhibou, or up to the GEO in Tunisia...

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  #35  
Old 21 Feb 2010
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Tin Zaw is here, I think....
19°57'35.60"N 2°58'31.59"E
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  #36  
Old 21 Feb 2010
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Back to Jan 2008

This is going back a bit, to January 2008. Story of a 2 hour firefight with AQ-IM near Tin-Zaouatene involving 750 kg of cocaine, 3 pickups and military firepower - the last mentioned not of course in the hands of the Malian officials.

One wonders what has been bought with the proceeds of all this dope + the kidnapping ransom. One short answer could be the 'Sahara'.


BBC NEWS | Africa | Mali cocaine haul after firefight



Officials in Mali say they have seized 750kg of cocaine valued at $45m, after a two-hour gun battle on Thursday.

The cocaine, one of the country's biggest drug hauls, was found near the town of Tin-Zaouatene in two four-wheel-drive vehicles.
The smugglers abandoned the vehicles and reportedly fled over the Algerian border nearby, carrying their wounded.
Correspondents say West Africa has become a major trafficking route for Colombian cocaine bound for Europe.
"The seizure took place... following a car chase and gun fight, or a battle, you could say, as they had military weapons," a senior Territorial Administration Ministry official told Reuters news agency. "After two hours of fighting, the smugglers, who were driving three Algerian-registered off-roaders, abandoned two of them, loaded their wounded into the third vehicle and fled over the border," he said.
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  #37  
Old 22 Feb 2010
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If the case of Boeing Cocaine has been a real source of embarrassment to the Malian authorities, the latter can now be rubbing their hands in favor of the largest seizure of marijuana that comes from successful research section of Brigade of the Judicial Investigation (BIJ) Friday, February 19, 2010: just under two tonnes or 1718 kilograms of marijuana and arrested six people!
maliweb.net :: Apr�s l�avion de la Coke, voici le train du hashs : Tout un wagon de cannabis destin� au S�n�gal, saisi par la Police malienne

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  #38  
Old 22 Feb 2010
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Intercepting one truckload of cannabis is not very impressive after letting tons of cocaine pass through. Could this be a publicity stunt?

The articles from El Watan are very interesting, written by a fearless investigative journalist, Salima Tlemcani. IWMF : International Women's Media Foundation - Salima Tlemcani, Algeria

She is naming several people in Gao, "close to the presidency" in connection with the cocaine flight. These are not touareg, they are arabs from the Tarkinte region (where is that - Gao?). According to her sources (which I for some reason believe are touareg) these are the same people who formed militias to fight the touareg rebellions.
She is describing the army vehicles that prepared the airfield. There is some confusion about where it took place, Kayes region makes no sense, but other reports it to be at Mema, 76 kms west of Timbouctoo.
These stories about cocaine, terrorists and Mali government involvement are widely circulated now
Al-Qaïda Maghreb entre otages et cocaïne - Temoust.org | Le portail du peuple touareg berbère Kel Tamasheq
Le Sahel devenu une poudrière, Al-Qaïda Maghreb entre otages et cocaïne | International | Algerie360.com
MALI

Last edited by priffe; 22 Feb 2010 at 19:45.
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  #39  
Old 23 Feb 2010
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Algerian security forces clash with AQ drug smugglers
Algeria says al Qaeda guards Sahara drug smugglers - Temoust.org | Le portail du peuple touareg berbère Kel Tamasheq
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  #40  
Old 23 Feb 2010
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What's a boeing worth !!!

A Boeing 727 cargo must be worth in the region of US $500.000 and of course you want it airworthy so you won't be flying a complete junker.... your pilot will know if you have the range to fly north stop off in the desert, unload, take off and land at your supposed destination.

So just imagine, going back to your boss who happens to be a drug dealer and say " sorry mate, got stuck in the desert, couldn't take off again, emptied the cargo and torched your plane"....

Damm he had a bad day in the office...

I guess the pilot asked the question, as we're flying a cargo plane, can't we open the cargo door and parachute the gear out, much more effective ... unless he was forced to land !

But hell.... what do I know ...
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  #41  
Old 12 Mar 2010
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Following on from the Interpol guy in Mauri who was arrested for cocaine smuggling, is the chief of Gambia's national drug agency (Ebrima Bun Sanneh) - arrested as part of a cocaine trafficking probe.

Also detained but not yet charged are: police and navy chiefs, the former fisheries minister and the army's number two.

I think one can safely say that cocaine smuggling is an important part of the West African economy now and its not one that these guys are able to resist.


News - Africa: Gambia drug chief re-arrested
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  #42  
Old 14 Mar 2010
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The case of seizure of 8 tons of drugs at the border between Algeria and Morocco continues to fuel the current security situation in the capital of the Saura, Bechar. From the simple method of interception and seizure of information and how to dismantle networks of barons, guides and escorts, and therefore complicit, the Algerian security services score points and recorded great progress in the war triggered, for years, against international cartels based drugs in the Moroccan Rif and beyond, in European capitals and the Middle East. And if the phenomenon of money laundering and connect these networks with terrorism has been established with this traffic, it is clear that illegal immigration is also exploited by drug traffickers to make recruits, and even goats emissaries to route their goods through the Gaza border between Algeria and Morocco and countries of the Sahel countries where Al Qaeda is clearly well established.
http://www.liberte-algerie.com/edit.php?id=132114&titre=Trafic de drogue : la main du Mali

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  #43  
Old 14 Mar 2010
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The Men Who Smuggle With Goats

...exploited by drug traffickers to make recruits, and even goats emissaries to route their goods through...

Sounds like George Clooney's 'Stare at...' sequel. I heard it was donkeys a few years ago.

Meanwhile, it's all about to get sorted out at the Sheraton in Algiers:
Sahara states to hold talks on tackling al Qaeda - Yahoo! News UK

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  #44  
Old 16 May 2010
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Kidal : A Big Catch


The group gendarmerie Kidal put his hand on Ablil Ag Albach, one of the major drug traffickers in the region.

Kidal : Une grosse prise - Temoust.org | Le portail du peuple touareg berbère Kel Tamasheq
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  #45  
Old 9 Jun 2010
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Cocaine with a street value of 1 billion USD has been seized in the Gambia.

BBC News - Two tons of cocaine seized in The Gambia

This 2 ton stash is worth more than the entire Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Gambia.

I'm coming round to thinking that the whole drugs, arms, AQIM thing in the Sahara is not going to be stopped by any concerted intervention. The West has a knack of standing off until such time as the tide has turned inexorably. I reckon that moment has more or less been reached in the Sahara.
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