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Al Qaeda leaders made plans for peace deal with the government of Mauritania : documents

By Tajuddin
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Mar 1st, 2016
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A man walks on the road where three Spanish aid workers were abducted from between Nouahibou and Nouakchott, Mauritania in a December 3, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Rafael Marchante/Files

A man walks on the road where three Spanish aid workers were abducted from between Nouahibou and Nouakchott, Mauritania in a December 3, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Rafael Marchante/Files

Nouakchott,Mauritania ( Reuters + DIPLOMAT.SO) – Al Qaeda leaders discussed a plan to arrange a peace deal with the government of Mauritania, according to documents seized by U.S. Navy Seals when they raided Osama bin Laden’s Pakistani hideout in 2011 and made public by the U.S. government on Tuesday.

According to a document outlining al Qaeda’s 2010 discussions about the peace plan, al Qaeda’s North African affiliate – known as Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM)-would commit itself “not to carry out any military activity in Mauritania” for a year. The peace plan could then be renewed, the document says.

In return, the proposal says Mauritanian authorities would release all al Qaeda prisoners and would commit not to carry out any attack on AQIM from Mauritanian territory.

Under the al Qaeda proposal, the Mauritanian government would also agree to pay AQIM an annual “sum of between 10 to 20 million euros” ($11 million-$22 million) in order to compensate the militants and “prevent the kidnapping of tourists.”

Senior U.S. intelligence officials familiar with the documents recovered from bin Laden’s hideout said they had no evidence that any such peace deal was ever reached with authorities in Mauritania, or whether the militant group ever contacted anyone in Mauritania to discuss the plan directly.

El Housseine Ould Nagi, legal counsel to Mauritania’s president, strongly denied his government had anything to do with such a deal.

“We have always been against paying ransoms and indirect financing of terrorism. Consequently, there has never been a secret accord between us and those people,” he said, referring to AQIM.

AQIM, a spinoff of what was originally an Algeria-based Salafist militant group, first publicly appeared in January 2007. It rose to prominence among militant groups mainly through its involvement in kidnapping Westerners for ransom in Sahel region countries including Mauritania, Niger and Mali.

In July 2012, the head of the U.S. military’s Africa Command described AQIM as al Qaeda’s “wealthiest affiliate.”

The al Qaeda plan also refers to how a “truce” with Mauritania would enable al Qaeda’s affiliate to “put the cadres in safe rear bases available” there while enabling the group to “focus on Algeria.”

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