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Old 21 Jul 2010
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While the Spanish hostages fate seems as uncertain as ever, Omar Sahraoui was sentenced to 12 years of hard labour in Nouakchott today, all his property to be confiscated.
He was sentenced for participating in the abduction, not for organizing it which was the original charge. An elderly man to 1 yr but his sentence was suspended. The others acquitted.
One could speculate that there are some ties to the negotiations here, that several were acquitted as part of a deal. We will see.
Mauritania sentences Malian over Spanish kidnapping | News by Country | Reuters
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Old 15 Aug 2010
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BAMAKO — A radical cell of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) which has executed two Western hostages, is threatening the lives of two Spaniards held by another branch, sources told AFP Saturday.
AFP: Islamist cell threatens Spanish hostages

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Old 16 Aug 2010
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"Omar Sahraoui," a Malian (Mauritanian-Saharan origins) considered the main perpetrator of the kidnapping of three Catalan late November 2009 in Mauritania sentenced Aug. 11 to 12 years in prison with hard labor has suddenly ...

... August 14 was extracted from his prison in Nouakchott to be delivered in Mali and the Polisario, they say. A senior Mauritanian was recently in Mali and a senior Polisario was a few days ago in Nouakchott. This mini flurry of diplomatic activity had a relationship with the issue, says one knowledgeable source.
Tahalil - Libération-expulsion de Omar Sahraoui sur fond de menaces contre les otages

Gogoonisch - E

She bowed to EU pressure
Mauritania has agreed to negotiate the release of terrorist Omar Sahraoui

Mauritania intends to hand Omar Sahraoui, a leader of AQIM in Mali, in the few coming days in order to enable him to negotiate a deal with Al Qaeda. That is to say the release of the terrorist against the two hostages Spanish. A fact that could raise the ire of Algeria and could provoke a crisis with neighboring Mauritania.

According to the Mauritanian independent news agency, the last visit by the Minister of Justice of Mauritania, Mali was to negotiate with his Malian counterpart a deal on the withdrawal of charges against such terrorist detained by Mauritania, in order its delivery in Mali who subsequently deliver to Al Qaeda.

Moreover, AQIM has threatened to execute two hostages kidnapped in Spain last November 29, we learn from corroborating sources. According to AFP, negotiations are underway between Abu Zaid, to free hostages
El Khabar - La Mauritanie accepte de négocier la libération du terroriste Omar Sahraoui

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Old 16 Aug 2010
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AFP: Al-Qaeda kidnapper extradited to Mali: judicial source

Le Temps d'Alg�rie - Grande pr�occupation � Madrid
To secure the release of two hostages in Spain, the Zapatero government is more willing than ever to meet discreetly to the conditions set by Ben Mokhtar: large ransom 5-6000000 euros and the release of some number of Salafists in prison in Nouakchott.
Polisario disowns him and suggests that "Omar Sahraoui" isn't even a Sahrawi, just a Malian criminal.
Diáspora saharaui: Tout pour sauver les otages espagnols…
Diáspora saharaui: Oumar Ould Hamma, alias "le sahraoui" transféré vers une direction inconnue
But this time the links to Polisario seems clear.

Last edited by priffe; 16 Aug 2010 at 08:32.
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Old 17 Aug 2010
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MADRID (Reuters) - The families of two Spanish aid workers kidnapped by a branch of al Qaeda have received proof that they are alive, the head of a Barcelona-based aid group said on Monday.
Reuters - Spanish hostages' families receive proof they alive

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Old 18 Aug 2010
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Originally Posted by priffe View Post
But this time the links to Polisario seems clear.
enlighten me please: where exactly do you see the link to Polisario?
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Old 18 Aug 2010
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Sahraoui/Sahrawi just means 'Saharan' - a person from the Sahara.

It's also what the tribes making up the Polisario have come to call themselves too, of course.

I have heard it used in north Algeria, for example (disparagingly, I suspect) when referring to our guide from In Salah and nothing to do with Polisario, just the guy's dark skin.

I notice some of these AQ types are also known as 'Ahmed Libiani' - or something like (Ahmed the Libyan or maybe the Lebanese), or 'Ahmed Eljezari' (Alg)

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Old 19 Aug 2010
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Is there a connection Polisario - Aqim? There's an abundance of material suggesting there is. Morocco has for years asserted the connection, but it could be dismissed as propaganda. As usual with the Maghreb, it is hard to find information that is not biased one way or the other.
When separatism and terrorism rhyme together:
Terrorism Watch: Concerns Over Stability in Mauritania
WesternSaharaOnline.net - Welcome
Collectif International pour la Vérité sur l'Algérie et le Polisario - CIVAP: Arrestation �* Nouakchott de trois membres du GSPC Algérien

etc, there's no end to these Moroccan sites.

Perhaps we can believe this defected Polisario leader?
Former Polisario leader highlights humanitarian aid embezzlement in Tindouf camps. - Free Online Library
Defector: Polisario in partnership with Al Qaida

Is this organization based in Brussels unbiased?
One of the first illustrations dates back to December 2003, when the Mauritanian security
services arrested Baba Ould Mohammed Bakhili, a leader of the Polisario Front, together
with many of his lieutenants and sympathisers of the Sahrawi independence movement for
their involvement in the theft of explosives in the premises of the Mauritanian National
Company of the Mining Industry (SNIM). Though SNIM had been the target of the Polisario
repeatedly during the 1970s, the nature of the material stolen led to many interrogations. The
153 canisters of inflammable products and the 12 kilometres of wire used fore remote control
explosions found in the Mauritanian city of Zérouate are not in fact part of the materiel
usually used by guerillas; rather they are typical of terrorist organisations
wishing to make bombs.39 Although the exact motives of this group remain unknown,
we may wonder if this operation was intended to allow the group to prepare
attacks or if it wished to sell these products to radical Islamist groups operating
in the Sahara.
Still more convincing signs emerged from an attack carried out on 4 June 2005 by the GSPC
against a barracks used by the Mauritanian security forces in Lamghiti.
The operation, which was led by Mokhtar Belmokhtar, a leader of the GSPC, and in which
more than one hundred men participated caused at least 15 deaths and wounded 17. It
reinforced existing suspicions over the collaboration between members of the
Front and radical Islamist groups due to the participation of vehicles belonging
to the Polisario in this attack led by the predecessor of AQIM. Furthermore,
according to many witnesses, some of the assailants spoke Hassani, a dialect
common in Mauritania and in the Western Sahara.
..the Algerian daily El Khabar confirmed in July 2008 the
presence of many individuals coming from the Western Sahara to AQIM training camps
located near the border with Mali...Algeria Times, which is often well informed, revealed that AQIM had recruited ‘more
than 200 young European, American and Canadian Muslims’ to be sent to
training camps of the radical Somali group al-Shabaab. And the site emphasises the
important role played in the recruitment of Jihadists in Europe by ‘former members of
the Polisario’ who had converted to radical Islamism and were running
logistical networks in Spain.
And now this Omar the Saharian (I read he got the name from marrying a West Sahara woman)
According to the Spanish daily ABC, Omar le Sahraoui is a former leader of the
Polisario Front who ‘was part of the hierarchy’ of the movement. Not being
entirely a member of the Belmokhtar cell, this ‘man of the desert’ placed his knowledge of the
territory and ‘his experience at the service of the terrorists and other traffickers in drugs as
well as other contraband products such as tobacco.’48 According to sources close to the
investigation cited by ABC, he has also been charged with providing AQIM with the vehicles
needed to escape from raids by the Mauritanian security forces and to cross over the border
into Mali.
Meanwhile, other members of the Front were also arrested with Omar le Sahraoui in
connection with the abduction of the three Spanish humanitarian aid workers. Indeed,
some twenty persons have been charged in this case, some of them soldiers
serving with the Polisario.
Procès terroristes en Mauritanie : Le Front Polisario mis �* l’index par la cour criminelle de Nouakchott
Indeed, while the links between the alleged kidnapping Sponsor Omar Ould Hamma alias "Omar Sahrawi," and the Polisario Front movement, were known (see Sahel Intelligence Article X), one of the other accused, Mohamed Salem Ould Ehmouda would be for him a "military Sahrawi Polisario Front" according to his own confession.
Of course, their confessions could be extracted by coercion. And the whole thing a hoax, staged by the CIA.
But it does make some sense. Polisario is in decay. Bin Laden is a more likely motivator to young sahrawis than Fidel Castro.
Another aspect - where does the DRS come in?

Last edited by priffe; 19 Aug 2010 at 17:31.
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Old 19 Aug 2010
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Spain close to a deal

Perhaps the extradition of Omar Sahraoui helped
but 13M dollars?
That will buy a lot of arms.

Spain Close to a Deal With Al Qaeda Magreb � Liveshots

Also Omar Ould Hamma « Sahraoui », le cadeau algérien �* l’Espagne

..Algeria has increased its pressure on Nouakchott for his release. Initially the Mauritanian president was categorically opposed. Then those very close to the Polisario in Mauritania began a campaign of harassment against Aziz accusing him of being an agent in the pay of Moroccans. He later relented to pressure from Algeria. An "honorable" outcome was found and the Malians have been involved. A few days ago, the Minister of Justice of Mauritania Ould Abidine Elkheir was sent to Bamako to negotiate a possible extradition of Omar the "Sahrawi" to Mali where he is a citizen. On Sunday, Omar Ould Hamma was taken from prison and was escorted to the Malian border where the authorities of that country took charge before he is delivered to AQIM in exchange for the release of the Spanish hostages. Today, a race against time is going on in the Sahel. The Algerians want the Spanish hostages to be released before it happens to them anything at all. It's probably a matter of life or death for the Polisario.

Last edited by priffe; 19 Aug 2010 at 17:23.
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Old 20 Aug 2010
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- some Saharawis (or Sahraouis) are engaging in smuggling, yes (not much else to do in the 30+ years lasting desolation of refugee camps SE of Tindouf in ways of private enterpise and free market

- am disturbed by ongoing doublestandards here, to ilustrate: if a Brit, say member of David C's party was caught embezzling funds, would it be fair to say that David C's party is a party of embezzlers? ... ach never mind

-Castro: Cuba is one of the few countries in the world providing educational oppurtunities and offering medical services to the few hundert thousand prisoners of the West Saharan conflict ... is that a crime?

-is ESISC biased? ... you bet
  1. European Strategic Intelligence & Security Center

    17 Aug 2010 ... L'expertise de l'ESISC porte notamment sur les questions de sécurité au sens large : terrorisme et contre-terrorisme, renseignement, ...

    Strategic Issues

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Old 20 Aug 2010
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Fair enough Moro
but who is then without bias?
we can certainly be misled by the reports
important to find the original source when many are making the same claims

The claims are that several in Polisario
have been involved in the kidnappings
and also
that Polisario have been doing business with Aqim/MBM for years

it would be improper to suggest that Polisario as an organization are behind the kidnappings
they are now also trying to distance themselves from Aqim
but it is becoming very hard to think that there is no involvement at any level

what do you think?
That there is no involvement whatsoever?
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Old 20 Aug 2010
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- Polisario is the least religiously influenced political organisation in the arab world. By a long shot ... even with my vivid imagination, I can hardly see them doing business with the "bearded ones"
- how could the moroccan sources not be biased? they're occupying militarily 80% of Western sahara for 3 decades, Polisario is their enemy
- I find the conjunction Polisario - F. Castro a bit below the belt, it implies that Polisario is a communist formation (on top of being islamist-terrorist). That is not true. In fact the big strategic "mistake" Polisario made when it proclaimed RASD (Republica Arab Sahraoui Democratica) was that they turned down the patronage of both the american and the soviet side. Tough bananas for them and yes everybody in the camps work for free. That doesn't make them communist it only makes them poor. It is also true that many Sahraouis from the camps study in Cuba and that the Cuban doctors provide medical assistance free of charge (the rest of the world seems to be too poor to give a hand here).
The all pervaiding bias might be alleviated by taking for example one info source from one side and one from the other, even when there is a deluge of info sources on one side, and virtually none on the other, instead of listing say 10 moroccan sources and one pro-polisario blogger (representing the official Polisaraio stance I assume). The bias might become a trifle smaller when we start perceiving the "bearded ones" as plain human beings, of which, as we all know, some are criminals and others are not.
To answer your question directly: no idea, honestly ... in a world where doing business is all there is to it, how can we expect "certain elements" not to do business with certain other elements? Like for example in the not so well publicised "affair of the 7 colonels" last year where high ranking moroccan officials were doing business galore with certain elements from the other side of the west saharan wall. They all sit in jail now.
Petty criminals sit in jails, big ones in baks (B. Brecht)
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Old 20 Aug 2010
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No one is inocent, but some are more guilty than others...

I tend to think that a few rotten apples should not characterise the all tree.
But time will tell... Getting a few europeans in the relaxed Laayoune-Dakhla road, shoud add up to the issue (I hope not!!!!).

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Old 21 Aug 2010
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To me it seems very clear that Morocco, Algeria and Polisario are all contributing negatively to this unfortunate situation.
I tried to find sources not influenced by the Moroccans, which is not easy on the internet when it regards West Sahara. URLs containing "western-sahara" or even "polisario" are most likely controlled by Morocco.
For anyone who has visited Dahkla or Layyoune recently the permanency of the occupation is evident.
The fact that Polisario won't allow a census of the refugee camps while contraband from the UN and other contributors are found as far east as Agadez says something about Polisario's interest in maintaining status quo.
But even if this conflict is at the heart of resolving the situation in Sahara, that is another discussion.

I just heard that Omar the Sahraoui was actually flown from Nouakchott straight to Bamako in a Spanish military aircraft.
Also Ennahar Online - Mali resumed negotiations with the Salafi organization

Last edited by priffe; 21 Aug 2010 at 16:54.
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Old 22 Aug 2010
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It seems, the two spaniards kidnapped last novembre in Mauritania are free!

Three Spanish aid workers kidnapped in Mauritania | Reuters

Added by Mod:
Good news. This link leads to the freed story. No doubt there will be more soon.
Qaeda in N.Africa frees 2 Spanish hostages--TV | Reuters
"Cosas que escapan a los que sueñan solo de noche..."

Last edited by Chris Scott; 22 Aug 2010 at 17:11. Reason: added a link
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