As the French intervention in Mali commenced, the French government advised 6,000 French citizens living in Mali to leave the country. French citizens throughout the Muslim world could now be at risk, if the threats of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and Islamic extremists from Ansar Dine in Mali, are credible.
reported Abdallah Al-Chinguetti, spokesman for al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), warned France: "Stop your assault against us or you are digging your own sons' graves."
His threat reiterated that of Ansar Dine spokesman Sanda Ould Boumama who told Reuters
: "There are consequences, not only for French hostages, but also for all French citizens wherever they find themselves in the Muslim world. We are going to continue resisting and defend ourselves. We are ready to die fighting."
AQIM, which raises funds to finance its operations through drug and arms smuggling, along with demanding money for hostages taken, currently holds eight French hostages it has kidnapped. Boumanma said: "The hostages are facing death ... Francois Hollande seems to wish the death of the hostages. He has chosen the war solution so that the hostages will be killed rather than negotiate."
Ironically the terrorist group AQIM has close affiliations with the rebel Islamists fighting in Syria which have French support. Libyan rebels that were assisted by the French in the overthrow of Gaddafi have close links with AQIM and comprise some of the foreign fighters
attempting to oust President Assad.
reported Islamists in London protested outside the French Embassy against the French operation in Mali. Protesters included veiled women that stood separated from male demonstrators. Placards were raised. proclaiming "French army, you will pay, the Muslims are on their way" and "Sharia is the only solution for Mali."