Al-Qaeda sought to establish ‘low-profile’ Islamist state in northern Mali: report

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Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQMI) tried to establish a low-profile Islamist state in northern Mali without drawing the attention of Western and regional powers, according to a document uncovered in Timbuktu and believed to bear the signature of the group’s leader Abdul Malek Drukdal.

The handwritten document, published by Algerie 1 news website, dates back to July 20, 2012 and describes a plan devised by the AQMI’s leader, to establish an Islamist state in the Azawad region, north of Mali.

The document, which was reportedly found after the French forces overrun the city of Timbuktu, is thought to have been written by Drukdal himself and contains notes about the war in northern Mali and the issues that needed to be addressed by the commanders of the terrorist group.

In the79-page document, Drudkal condemned the destruction of shrines and the stoning of people accused of adultery by “extremist fighters,” as he described them. Drukdal drew a vision of the new state he planned to establish and that vision appeared to be different from that typically adopted by Islamist extremists.

Drukdal expressed outrage at “mistakes” committed by his fellow fighters, especially the quick application of strict Islamic punishments (hudud) against those who “violate Islamic laws.”
Unusual strategy

“You made a mistake. The population may turn against us, and we cannot fight a people, you may therefore cause the death of our experience, our baby, our beautiful tree,” Drukdal wrote in the document.

He called for establishing a higher independent Islamist authority whose mission would be applying Islamic law (sharia) in the Azawad region. He urged his group to seek the assistance of the Azawad Liberation Movement and Ansar al-Din Movement in order to implement his project.

Drukdal proposed appointing the leader of Ansar al-Din Iyad Ag Ghaly as the prime minister of the transitional government in the new state. This government, he explains, will be in charge of managing the transitional period and drafting the constitution of the new state. Ghaly was to be provided with a number of jihadists to assist him in his mission and manage the “liberated” cities.

Drukdal warned his men of putting pressure on the secular National Movement for the Liberation. “We cannot ask members of MNLA become Salafists and join the ranks of Ansar Eddine overnight,” he wrote.

Regarding the formation of the new government, Drukdal said the ministries of religious affairs, justice, and education should be given to Ansar al-Din and suggested that the defense ministry be made up of an organization that includes all the movements in the region “in order to warrant everyone’s security.”

“Alliances are essential. This gives us three advantages. If we are attacked, we will not be alone. Also, the international community does not focus its pressure solely on us, but also on our allies. Finally, we will not only take responsibility for any failure,” Drukdal stressed in his document.

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