A Mauritanian extremist told a trial in Mali on Wednesday that he had attacked a club in the capital Bamako in 2015, killing five people, in revenge for cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed by France’s Charlie Hebdo magazine.
“We are the ones who carried it out, Al-Mourabitoune,” said Fawaz Ould Ahmed, also known as “Ibrahim 10,” referring to a prominent extremist group in the Sahel.
“We are not ashamed, we are proud,” he said.
“It was revenge for the prophet after what they did at Charlie Hebdo – it’s the photos, the caricatures.”
He added: “And sadly, it’s not over. It’s still continuing,” in an apparent reference to French President Emmanuel Macron’s defense of the right to freedom of expression after a teacher was murdered near Paris for showing his pupils the cartoons.
A Frenchman, a Belgian and three Malians were killed in the 2015 club attack in Bamako, when gunmen sprayed the Terrasse bar and restaurant with bullets.
Ould Ahmed is allegedly a lieutenant of the notorious one-eyed Algerian extremist Mokhtar Belmokhtar.
He is accused of personally shooting the victims with an assault rifle.
Ould Ahmed said he went into the toilets at the club to don a hood and get out his Kalashnikov, and then “fired into the back of a white man.”
“These are people who deserve it,” he said. “I have never felt regret.”
He said he was surprised he was able to return home by taxi without a hitch after the attack.
Ould Ahmed and two other men, Malian nationals Sadou Chaka and Abdoulbaki Abdramane Maiga, have been charged for La Terrasse attack and for an assault in November 2015, when gunmen took guests and staff hostage at the 190-room Radisson Blu hotel.
The siege left 20 people dead, including 14 foreigners.
Ould Ahmed, who is accused of masterminding the Radisson Blu attack, was arrested in April 2016 by Malian police in Bamako, where he had arrived more than a week earlier to prepare further assaults, according to a source close to the investigation.
In January 2015, “Islamist” gunmen in Paris killed 12 people at the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a weekly satirical magazine, over the publication of the Prophet Mohammed caricatures.
The trial in Bamako is a rare event in the Sahel, where weak and impoverished states are floundering in the face of a bloody extremist revolt.