Following the Burkina Faso attacks which began on Friday and instigated the 72 hour mourning period for the nation, there have been many speculations as to why Burkina Faso was caught in the cross-hairs of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). The nation as a whole had just come through 15 difficult months of a revolution, a coup, a counter-coup and finally its most open election in history. After such continuous, seemingly unending upheavals, both the people and their newly elected president, Roch Marc Christian Kaboré must have been ready to breathe a sigh of relief and settle down to building their nation, this was not to be however.
In a co-ordinated attack that left 29 dead and over 59 injured, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) struck a debilitating blow to the nation. The consequences of the attack are far-reaching, threatening a halt to everything from tourism to investment. In the statement released by Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb where they accepted responsibility for the attack, the group said, “a new message from the heroic champions of Islam, with their blood and their bodies, to the slaves of the cross, the occupiers of our homes, the looters of our wealth, and who undermine our security.”
For Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, a group which stemmed from what remained of a defunct rebel force rooted in Algeria’s civil war in the 1990s and grew into a feared and wealthy militant group making money from kidnapping Westerners and trafficking arms and drugs, this attack may be its huge comeback. Some of its members had previously left to form their own factions, but after the Mali attack in November 2015 where one of its most notable members Mokhtar Belmokhtar said that his faction had worked with its parent group, it is believed that there is in fact a mending of relationships in a bid to rebuild the original AQIM. This would insinuate that one of the major reasons for the attack is an attempt to reinforce itself as the main jihadist group in the region in the face of its rival militant group the Islamic State (ISIS).
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The specific target of the Splendid Hotel and Cappuccino restaurant both frequent hives for foreigners due to their luxury status in a city low on luxury spots, was guaranteed to make the attack headline worthy. With Al Qaeda’s recent deadly message and their show that they are able to take this message of terror to new frontiers, we really hope that they see no need to send any more messages as more and more countries regroup and sharpen their intent in this war against terrorism.