How an interview with Vicki Huddleston led me to articles with a black view of the Islamic terror groups in Sahel-Maghreb and US influence during the last decade. In the shadow of black ops, false flag operations, proxy war and earth’s resources in Africa. Belmokhtar was in JSoc’s crosshairs, a decision was made not to pull the trigger. A mistake with consequences similar to the misses of taking out Osama Bin Laden in the 1990s? Mokhtar Belmokhtar was the mastermind of the recent Algerian hostage taking at In Amenas gas plant resulting in a massacre of foreign workers.

Pursuing Terrorists in the Great Desert

(The Village Voice) Jan. 17, 2006 – Some State Department officials said that European Command began with an inappropriately aggressive strategy. For instance, in 2002 the two sides fought bitterly over aerial bombing missions that the military had drawn up for the region. A Pentagon official told me that these missions were never “serious options.” But on at least one occasion, military strategists in Germany clashed with the State Department over how to deal with an Algerian militant named Mokhtar Belmokhtar, “The One-Eyed.”

Mokhtar had ties to the GSPC, and for years had run a transnational smuggling and banditry operation from the deserts of northern Mali. The U.S. military believed that after 9-11 Mokhtar was recruiting and arming religious radicals in the area; it wanted to attack his camps. The State Department argued that the intelligence on Mokhtar was not conclusive, and the American embassy in Mali insisted that an air strike on Mokhtar would “radicalize people you don’t want to radicalize,” according to a U.S. government official in the Sahel. In the end, the attack was called off.

Vicki Huddleston, who was then U.S. ambassador to Mali, said that rather than arming terrorists, Mokhtar was supporting the Kunta Arabs, a nomadic group that was fighting other desert tribes. Huddleston has since retired from government, and declined to discuss her official conversations with European Command, but when asked about the dispute, she said, “If you’re correct that we discouraged [the Defense Department], it was a good thing. If we had bombed a bunch of Kuntas, I think the whole place would have gone crazy. They’re certainly not terrorists.”

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El Para, the Maghreb’s Bin Laden or a False Flag operation

(Le Monde) Feb. 2005 – The Algerian government launched a major diplomatic offensive early in 2003 to obtain financial and military support from Washington. Its efforts were given an enormous boost by Abderrazak “El Para”, a former Algerian special forces officer who had gone over to the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC). On 4 January, the day before a high-level United States military delegation arrived in Algiers to discuss the resumption of arms sales to Algeria as part of the fight against terrorism, El Para’s group attacked a military convoy near Batna, killing 43 soldiers.

On the basis of a video recording subsequently revealed as a forgery, the Algerian army’s secret service, the all-powerful Department of Intelligence and Security (DRS, formerly Military Security), tried to persuade public opinion that El Para was a lieutenant of Osama bin Laden in charge of establishing al-Qaida in the Sahel region. Shortly after, the US eased the arms embargo on Algeria and announced the sale of anti-terrorist equipment to it. William Burns, assistant secretary of state for near eastern affairs, had already declared in Algiers in 2002 that “Washington has much to learn from Algeria on ways to fight terrorism.”

US joint military exercises across five Saharan states, including Mauritania and Algeria, known as Operation Flintlock in 2005.

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