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AQIM, kidnapping, and murder: a brief history

Guest blogger Alex Thurston rounds up information on kidnappings and murders of Americans and Europeans by Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in Africa's Sahel region.

By Alex ThurstonGuest blogger / January 19, 2011

The flag-draped bodies of gendarmes who were killed in the confrontation with probable members of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb are seen at a ceremony in Niamey on Jan. 10. France's Defence Minister travelled to meet with Niger authorities and members of the French community after two French nationals were kidnapped from a restaurant Friday evening and had probably been executed before a confrontation with French and Niger forces over the weekend.



Over the long weekend I entered into a conversation/debate with a few folks on Twitter, including Andrew Lebovich, Xavier Rauscher, and itsme_leclerc, concerning the pros and cons of ransom payments and armed rescues in Sahelian hostage crises. Feeling constrained by Twitter’s character limit, I started to write up my thoughts on different ways to prevent or resolve the ransoms vs. rescues dilemma. But then I realized it would be good to write a background piece laying out the key kidnapping incidents in the Sahel from 2007 (AQIM’s official birthdate) to the present. With that background in place, I hope to write a piece later in the week going deeper into the key issues.

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