Last Friday 170 people were taken hostage at a Radisson Blu Hotel in Bamako, the capital of Mali. About ten gunmen stormed the Radisson early Friday morning, shooting all the guards and taking many hostages. Radisson Blu Bamako is known to accommodate many foreigners and diplomats. Hostages were Russian, French, Chinese, and American nationals, among others. The Malian government declared a state of emergency and a ten hour siege ensued, led by Malian, French, UN and American security forces. The attack left 27 people dead, including five of the attackers. The militant jihadist group Al-Mourabitoun predominant in northern Mali, Niger, and Libya has claimed responsibility for the attack. Al-Mourabitoun is known to have strong ties to Al-Qaeda and some sources claim the attack was done in coordination between the two.
Earlier this year Mali witnessed a similar hostage crisis followed by a daylong siege in a hotel in Sevare. Contrary to other countries experiencing similar circumstances but of a more recent nature, Mali–which has an Islamic population of over 90%–has long been in conflict due to the operations of prominent Jihadist militant groups. Back in March 2012, the President of Mali was overthrown in a coup d’état because he failed to handle the insurgency wrought by ethnic minority Tuaregs for an independent Azawad in Northern Mali. As a result of this coup, which some describe as a product of the Arab Spring, various jihadist groups gained control over three major Malian cities.
Al Qaeda and ISIS split many years ago over differences in their ideologies. In light of recent events in Paris, and of Al-Mourabitoun’s relationship to Al-Qaeda, many believe that this was a stunt by Al-Qaeda to remind the world, and ISIS, of its rivaling presence. Terrorism has been on the rise with the fast evolution of war tactics and technology. Terrorist groups have the privilege of paving history; world powers must strive to meet these challenges appropriately.
by Christa Sowah ’17