As foreign Islamic extremists flock to Syria to engage in a spot of jihad, there are still plenty to spare to cause chaos in northern Mali.
British, Libyan and Kosovo Albanian jihadists are just some of the motley extremists representing Salifist groups in Syria. Not to be outdone, the Islamists in Mali are attracting their own fair share of want-to-be terrorists intent on enforcing Sharia law on the resident Malians that failed to escape the Islamic takeover.
Timbuktu, the fabled city which stood as a bastion for Muslim tolerance, is now a major draw for al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the Algerian branch of al-Qaeda which finances its terrorist operations with kidnapping and drug trafficking. Yahoo reported a regional security source confirmed: "Dozens of Algerian jihadists arrived in Timbuktu this weekend to reinforce the AQIM camp" adding Timbuktu is "increasingly becoming the headquarters of AQIM in northern Mali."
As the extremists enforce Sharia law in the area, which apparently allows Islamists to profit from drug trafficking if it's all in the cause of bolstering their cash, their actions have become increasingly radical.
In addition to making house calls to check if the women are wearing the newly compulsory veils and arresting those who fail to adhere to the strict Islamic dress code, Islamists are also "going through houses to confiscate televisions" a local resident said. He added "Yesterday they took at least 25 television sets. Today they began rummaging through houses near the grand mosque."
Recently on PBS Deyda Mohamed, a Mauritian police chief, spoke of the reason why so many Malians are fleeing the country. He said: "They say that the fear of having a hand amputated or being whipped or stoned to death made them come. They will not accept these things. They're Muslims, but they can't endure this kind of religion being imposed upon them."
This weekend Morocco announced it had dismantled an extremist cell which had sent more than 20 Moroccans to Mali to join al-Qaeda groups there.
On Saturday thousands of Malians protested in Bamako against the increasing takeover of northern Mali by religious extremists and the presence of jihadists.
The Islamists that have seized control are not welcome, nor is their interpretation of Sharia which confiscates televisions, forces women to hide behind the veil, destroys cultural libraries, closes bars, and inflicts harsh punishments on local Muslims not used to living under such restrictive practices.
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