A Dead Posh Mauritanian Jihadi

30 07 2010

A Lost Generation? (Via Alakhbar)

Unfortunately, the limited conversation ongoing in the West about AQIM is still uninformed by the realities of that group’s penetration in Mauritania; the analysis that is currently available focuses on the geopolitical and kinetic aspects of confronting the group. Little is said or shared about the alarming rise of Mauritanian youth being radicalized, indoctrinated and ultimately converted into militant Jihadis. For instance, no one has commented yet on the identity of the Mauritanian AQIM fighter who was killed during last week’s Franco-Mauritanian raid in Mali.

Abdelkader Ould Ahmednah, identified by the Mauritanian authorities as the Mauritanian of the group, challenges many assumptions about the spread of Jihadi ideology in Mauritanian society.

– Abdelkader Ould Ahmednah is one of three siblings who were recruited by AQIM. Two of his siblings are under arrest right now for alleged involvement in the killing of American citizen Christopher Leggett. in fact, they were the ones who identified him to Mauritanian security officials who brought photos of the dead gunmen to them in order to glean some fresh intel about AQIM fighters.

-Abdelkader Ould Ahmednah was arrested in 2006, and was sitting in prison until he was released in the amnesty declared by former President Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi in 2007. obviously, that was short-sighted decision: no one seems to have thought of the consequences of allowing such a hardened radical back into the nature.

-Judging by the failure of the so-called de-radicalization effort setup in late 2009 by General Aziz in partnership with Mauritania’s Muslim Brotherhood and Salafi spiritual leader, the problem at hand is not merely that we are dealing with some misguided youth who incidentally picked up the wrong brand of Islam.

More importantly than the above points:

-Abdelkader Ould Ahmednah is the son of a very wealthy businessman who hails from the Smasside tribe. This is former President Maaouyia Ould Taya’s tribe. The Smasside came to ABSOLUTELY dominate the Mauritanian economy under Taya’s rule in the 90’s through family-based cartels that were given a monopoly over fisheries, export and import, and representation of foreign commercial institution. As such, Ould Ahmednah had a guarenteed path to become, like many of his young tribesmen, a wealthy prosperous businessman. He chose otherwise.

You see where I am going? Ould Ahmednah and his siblings, are part of the country’s privileged elite. They were not driven into violent Jihadism by poverty. If anything, they were seduced by this ideology because Mauritania’s crumbling educational system fed them a belief that Islam is the core of their societies and that they are citizens of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania.

Yet, they cannot reconcile that ideal with the realities of a society crumbling before their eyes. The next simplistic leap of faith for them is that if society is straying, then it must be that it needs to return to its core values as those have been abandoned somewhere between the glorious mythical past of the Islamic Ummah they were taught, and modern day Mauritania.

As a Mauritanian by birth, I am haunted by my society’s inability to reconcile itself with its own past and identity. I feel that as long as Mauritania’s national narrative emphasizes Islam-a vague Islam at that- as the center of our national identity, we will be creating more Ould Ahmednahs. All it would take for someone (as the Muslim Brotherhood is doing right now) is to claim the mantle of Islam to disguise any ideological message to recruit a generation adrift and in search for bearings.

This is not at all a dismissal of Mauritania’s failed governance and in that respect, I am NOT optimistic. The responsibility rests squarely on the shoulders of Mauritania’s elites who spend their time squabbling over political power without ever feeling the need to redefine their society and face its demons, ancient, and modern.

More later when I have more time to write..



7 responses

30 07 2010

The same pattern is reproduced all over the Arab world. In Morocco I’ve seen colleagues (highly educated and articulate doctors, sometimes from wealthy families) drift dramatically toward Islamic radicalization after 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq. Ill-crafted basic education that instills -as you say- a myth about Islam and a supposedly Golden age, combined with an ill-advised US foreign policy, pushes generations in the hands of Islamists. I’ve witnessed that sharp drift with my own eyes. And while tiny minority of those embrace the militaristic (nihilistic) doctrine of Al Qaida, most of them end up indoctrinated in well-oiled political parties serving political Islam and undermining secular and progressive activists, which in my view is a much devastating effect than the consequences of warfare conducted by AQIM militants and the likes, as tragic and deadly as it is.

31 07 2010

You have touched the nerve. That Is a precise dignosis.

I think we have always missed the whole picture of terrorism as we tended to locate the its causes in the poverty background. This analysis always bumps into the hard reality that is sometimes, like in this case, different. Many of the terrorists are coming from wealthy milieus. Famous among this category is Ben laden himself and the crushing majority of the 9/11 suiciders.

The story is clear in the Maghreb and Pakistan where the whole radical Islamist web was cobwebed in the 1970s as the oil boom in the gulf was translated into large scale finance of the jihadists all across the muslim world. Money was transfered to foster the clergy in the remote country to urge them to take on the secular regimes at the helms.

This money created a leisure class whose ideology is hatred and discrimination. The class’ capital is this hatred, and it kept feeding and seeking redemption through translating this hatred into real action. They are not poor. No, they have satisfy all their mundane needs, and now they seek for “eternal happiness” by joining God, presenting his a good present: killing his enemy.

As you can see it is not a poverty problem. It is interpretation problem. That is how we get suicidal stories everywhere.

1 08 2010
RE: Franco-Mauritanian AQIM Raid « The Moor Next Door

[…] scene of the raid (more on him here). Ould Ahmednah was the son of a wealthy businessman and, as another blogger has noted, likely could have gone on to be one himself had he not adopted the “jihadi” […]

3 08 2010
Global Voices in English » Mauritania, Algeria: Analyses of the Fallout from the Raid to Free Germaneau

[…] activist and blogger Nasser Weddady explains why one should play close attention as to how Abdelkader Ould Ahmednah came about getting involved with AQIM: Ould Ahmednah had a guarenteed path to become, like many of his young tribesmen, a wealthy […]

3 08 2010
Mauritania, Algeria: Analyses of the Fallout from the Raid to Free Germaneau :: Elites TV

[…] activist and blogger Nasser Weddady explains why one should play close attention as to how Abdelkader Ould Ahmednah came about getting involved with AQIM: Ould Ahmednah had a guarenteed path to become, like many of his young tribesmen, a wealthy […]

7 08 2010
Global Voices po polsku » Mauretania, Algieria: Analiza rezultatów próby uwolnienia Germaneau

[…] i blogger, Nasser Weddady, wyjaśnia dlaczego należałoby zwrócić uwagę na to w jaki sposób Abdelkader Ould Ahmednah zaangażował się w działalność AQUIM: Ould Ahmednah miał z góry wytyczone przeznaczenie: jak wielu młodych ludzi z jego plemienia […]

26 10 2010
Adrian Monck

Interesting piece. But contrary to frequent popular claims, poverty seldom seems to be a driver of terrorism, see Scott Atran’s latest book, and recall the Red Army Faction etc. as detailed in Louise Richardson’s What Terrorists Want.

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