As I wrote recently about the dangers of Al Qaeda groups getting a foothold on the African continent, behold the first independent state has been created based on Sharia law with an Al Qaeda militant group.

Mali rebel groups unite to create new Islamist state

(France24) May 26, 2012 – Mali’s secular Tuareg rebels and the Islamist militants Ansar Dine have agreed to join forces and create an independent Islamic state in the north of the country, the two factions announced in a joint statement on Saturday.

Tuareg rebels and the Islamist rebel group Ansar Dine announced Saturday they are joining forces and creating a body to rule northern Mali as an independent Islamic state.

“The Ansar Dine movement and the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (Tuareg MNLA) proclaim their dissolution in Azawad (northern Mali),” the two groups said in an agreement sent to AFP.

“The two movements have created the transitional council of the Islamic state of Azawad,” said the groups, which have been controlling the area for the past two months, in their “protocol agreement”.

“We are all in favour of the independence of Azawad,” they said, adding that “we all accept Islam as the religion.”

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The accord between the secular Tuareg and the Islamists comes after weeks of sometimes fraught discussions between two movements which have long been separated in their objectives and ideologies.

Mayhem in Mali: Implications of the Military Coup in Bamako

Islamists impose sharia in Mali’s Timbuktu

BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — Mali’s crisis deepened, as officials in the fabled northern city of Timbuktu confirmed that the Islamic rebel faction that seized control of the town over the weekend has announced it will impose sharia law.

Rebels in the country’s distant north have taken advantage of the power vacuum created last month when renegade soldiers in the capital of Bamako overthrew the nation’s democratically elected leader. In the chaos that followed the March 21 coup, they advanced on strategic towns in the north, including the ancient city of Timbuktu, located over 620 miles (1,000 kilometers) from the capital.

The ethnic Tuareg rebels included a secular faction fighting for independence, and an Islamic wing, Ansar Dine, whose reclusive leader called a meeting of all the imams in the city on Tuesday to make his announcement.

“He had the meeting to make his message to the people known, that sharia law is now going to be applied,” said the Mayor of Timbuktu Ousmane Halle, who was reached by telephone. “When there is a strongman in front of you, you listen to him. You can’t react,” he said, when asked what the reaction was of the imams of a historic town known for its religious pluralism and its moderate interpretation of Islam.

“Things are going to heat up here. Our women are not going to wear the veil just like that,” said the mayor.

Kader Kalil, the director of a communal radio station who was asked to cover the meeting and who later interviewed the Ansar Dine leader Iyad Iyad ag-Ghali, confirmed that sharia had been imposed.

Mali Islamists attack Unesco holy site in Timbuktu

"But I will not let myself be reduced to silence."

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