Ivory Coast: one year after Grand-Bassam risk of attacks still high

The Ivory Coast has commemorated the 19 victims of the attack in the coastal town of Grand-Bassam, near Abidjan, on 13 March 2016, threw for the first time the country into the nightmare of terrorism.

Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara lays a wreath of flowers at the site of the attack - Photo Reuters
Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara lays a wreath of flowers at the site of the attack - Photo Reuters

A year after the attack by Islamic extremists affiliated with Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the African nation has taken awareness of the extent of the jihadist threat in its territory and greatly strengthened its security.

Now, police patrols monitor any suspicious movement along the beaches of Grand-Bassam and the streets of Abidjan are monitored by special units, positioned at strategic points of the Ivorian economic capital.

Also the investigation traced back to the authors of the attack went on unabated. The investigation is still ongoing and so far led to the arrest of 38 people, 26 of whom have been detained in the Ivory Coast, six in Burkina Faso, four in Mali and two in Senegal.

During all these operations, even three men responsible for the logistics of the Grand-Bassam attack were captured. Among them, figure Mimi Ould Baba Ould El Mokhtar, considered to be the main sponsor of Islamist terrorism in the Ivory Coast.

Before El Mokhtar, arrested last January in Mali near the town of Gossi, in the network of investigators had fallen Ibrahim Ould Mohammed, considered the right-hand man of Kounta Dallah, the alleged attack minds, and Midy Ag Sodack Dicko, who it hosted the terrorist commando in Abidjan.

Even these two terrorists were arrested in Mali, confirming that the African country has served as a basis for organizing the attack, while the number of arrests made in three other West African States support the hypothesis, that the extremists who hit Grand-Bassam had ramifications in different countries of the region.

Moreover Al-Mourabitoun, the armed group that claimed the attack has long been direct emanation of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and closely linked to other Islamic extremist movements that act in the Sahel-Saharan Africa.

As part of the investigation has been added some piece also get to catch all those responsible brought in November 2015 Radisson hotel in Bamako and the assault to the bistro Le Cappuccino and Splendid and Yibi Hotels, in Ouagadougou, It took place in January 2016.

An intensive investigation that the Yamoussoukro authorities conducted in cooperation with French, Moroccan and Algerian intelligence, without which it would not have been possible to achieve these excellent results.

However, still missing Kounta Dallah, alleged commander of the Al-Mourabitoun Ivorian brigade, considered the mastermind attack and actively sought throughout West Africa.

The face of Dallah was broadcast by video surveillance monitor of the Abidjan airport and has been repeatedly broadcast on all local media. To date, however, the terrorist who would have armed the command of three men who opened fire on the unarmed civilians is still unavailable. 

Another excellent arrest performed as part of investigating to reconstruct the identity of the Grand-Bassam bombers had been to Suleiman Keita, responsible for several attacks in southern Mali.

The jihadist, captured last April in his hideout in the Wagadu forest, near the border with Mauritania, according to the investigators would be involved in the planning of the attack in the seaside resort of Ivory Coast.

One particular is not insignificant is the fact that Keita is considered the right-hand man of the Ansar Edine leader, the Tuareg Iyad Ag Ghali, appeared last March 2 in a video posted on an Islamist forum to announce the unification of main active al-Qaeda groups in the Sahel region into a single organization.

The new group, called Jama'at Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen (Group for the support of Islam and Muslims), will be an integral part of Al-Qaeda and unites in a single Islamist extremists organization the Fulani of the Liberation Front of Macina, active in the center of Mali; the  mujahideen of Sahara Emirate of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb; jihadists of Al-Mourabitoun, responsible for the latest attacks in Mali, Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast.

In the seven-minute video, Ghaly says the new merger in the context of the al-Qaeda's policies of and says the new group will have a transnational dimension, so no more restricted in a territorial logic.

In the movie there is also no reference to a specific geographical area or to a single action, but at the end of the video, the Ansar Dine leader explicitly mentions that it wanted to bring together the jihadist groups, in compliance with the principles of Sharia.

A decision that could also have been developed in response to the rise of the French military pressure against terrorism in the region and the activism of the Sahel security forces, which has brought to justice almost all authors of the Grand-Bassam carnage.

@afrofocus

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