Moroccan truckers murdered in Mali: An Algerian Lockerbie?

The investigation into the murder of two Moroccan truck drivers on Malian territory continues to advance, but most eyes are already on Algeria and its intelligence services.

“Stitched with a white thread”, such would be, according to “an Algerian diplomatic source” consulted by the electronic media Tout sur l’Algerie (TSA), the accusations against the Algerian regime of being behind the attack terrorist who caused the death of two Moroccan truckers and the injury of a third in Mali. “These stupid and unfounded accusations are without interest and do not deserve to be dwelled on,” notably swept the said source. And yet … Let us return first to the heart of the affair, which took place on September 11, 2021 in Didiéni, a town located in the Koulikoro region, in the Sahelian part of Mali.

That day, two trucks driven by Moroccan drivers arrived there from neighboring Senegal and whose final destination was the capital, Bamako, located some three hours by road further south. Nothing very extraordinary there: Moroccan truckers have the reputation of “sewing”, as they say in their language, the roads of West Africa, that is to say of making them long and wide. and across, carrying all kinds of goods here and there. And those who were, unfortunately, going to breathe their last in Didiéni were particularly accustomed to it, one of them, Lahoucine Id Bella, having even recently launched an international transport company also covering Europe – the other trucker killed s ‘calls, for his part, Hassan Bassou.

So they knew where they were going, but what they did not know, alas, is that a terrorist gang would be waiting for them this time around the corner. Because of course, the attack they suffered was not arbitrary and was certainly carefully prepared; the numerous local witnesses affirming in particular to the media that the terrorists had been waiting for long hours, before starting to pursue them as soon as they had entered their sights. This presupposes, moreover, a well-crafted intelligence work to which we will come back. And more disturbing still, nothing was taken in the trucks, as if only the drivers interested the terrorists… And only the drivers seemed to interest them indeed. But why is that?

Open secret
During his various interventions in the media, the Moroccan ambassador in Bamako, Hassan Naciri, has, for the moment, refused to comment, simply indicating that an investigation was underway. And indeed, this is currently being carried out by the Malian authorities, who benefit in this sense from the support of their Moroccan counterparts. He said to himself, thus, that agents of the national intelligence services would already be on the spot, without it being however possible to verify the information. But one can, this being, imagine that one of the tracks currently envisaged is that of Algeria. In this regard, as everyone knows, it is strongly present in the Sahel, where it is an open secret that it has ties to the terrorist organizations in the region. Among these organizations, the Support Group for Islam and Muslims (GSIM), which since March 2017 has merged several jihadist sub-organizations in the region and whose leader is none other than Iyad Ag Ghali, a Malian Tuareg with also, because of his maternal descent, the Algerian nationality.

Disturbing connections
In October 2016, the French daily Le Monde had, in this regard, revealed that it was upon intervention by Algeria that France had been prevented from executing Mr. Ag Ghali, which she nevertheless had at point blank range. Another terrorist leader also having connections with the services of the neighbor to the East, Lehbib Ould Ali Ould Saïd Ould Joumani, better known by his nom de guerre “Adnane Abou Walid al-Sahraoui”. “Neutralized” this September 15, 2021 by the French army after years where he was the leader of the Daesh organization in the Great Sahara, it was as a member of the militias of the separatist movement of the Polisario Front that he had made his debut, before subsequently engaging in the Movement for Uniqueness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), which remained famous for the operation to kidnap, in April 2012, seven officials of the Algerian consulate in the city of Gao, Mali, as part of an operation in which we know today, thanks in particular to the revelations of the British anthropologist Jeremy Keenan, that the Algerian military security, the Department of intelligence and security (DRS), had soaked in a murky way -the head of the department, Mohamed “Toufik” Médiène, among other things wanted, according to other sources, to display his power of nuisance to the chief of staff , Ahmed Gaïd Salah, with whom he was then in competition, which I also allegedly led to the terrorist attacks on the In-Amenas gas site in January 2013.

Terrorist gang
Some will retort of course that, however proven they may be, the connections between Algeria and the terrorist groups in the Sahel cannot allow the assertion of Algerian involvement in the attack on Didiéni, but this is hardly admissible for at least two reasons: the first is that the Algerian side simply could not ignore the imminence of such an attack, which has practically eyes and ears everywhere among the groups active in Mali, and the second is that the terrorist band which carried out the attack was clearly well put in the scent, which requires technical, technological and logistical means that only a State can provide.

Certain sources speak in particular of the contribution of men of the Polisario, but the thing is not really credible given that this one does not have, strictly speaking, commandos. We should rather think, underline better informed observers, of men of the former Algerian Special Intervention Group (GIS), officially dissolved in the middle of the 2010s but which according to many observers would still maintain an interloped existence.

Diplomatic escalation
But why all this, then? Why would Algeria now seek to possibly use methods worthy of the Libyan regime under Muammar Gaddafi, in particular with the Lockerbie attack in December 1988? A reaction to Morocco’s successes in West Africa, where its application for membership of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) continues to advance well? This is to assume, just as we must remember the Algerian attempt at the end of 2020, and this through the Polisario, to block the movement of goods and people between Morocco and Mauritania and from there the rest of the West African sub-region, to the point that the Royal Armed Forces (FAR) had, after 23 days, to intervene to free the passage.

Not to mention the diplomatic escalation in which Algeria has led, since the arrival to the presidency in December 2019 of Abdelmadjid Tebboune, with the ultimate consequence of the rupture, on August 24, 2021, of bilateral relations. We should, in truth, rather expect everything, and especially anything …

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