Ever since the Pentagon increased its covert northern African operations -- through
programs known as the Pan Sahel Initiative and its replacement Trans-Saharan Counter-Terrorism
Initiative (TSCTI) -- Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has used his virtual parallel
intelligence and paramiltary force, known variably as the Proactive, Preemptive
Operations Group (P2OG), Task Force 121, and Titrant Ranger, to engage in congressionally-unsupervised
operations in the Saharan region. This past June, US Special Forces took part
in Flintlock 05 exercises with the same Mauritanian officers who were involved
in the recent coup against President Maaouya Ould Sid'Ahmed Taya while he was
at King Fahd's funeral in Saudi Arabia. Other Mauritanian coup leaders were trained
at U.S. European Command (EUCOM) facilities in Stuttgart, Germany. U.S. troops
and their Mauritanian counterparts used the strategic Atar airport, in Mouakchott
(not to be confused with the capital Nouakchott), as a staging post for joint
operations. Atar airport is near the southeast part of Western Sahara in the middle
U.S. Air Force C-130 Hercules
landing at Atar airport, Mauritania for 2004 Pentagon "anti-terorism"
Although the State Department condemned the coup against Taya, who is now in exile
in Niger (which is also part of the TSCTI), it has little control over the off-the-books
operations of the Pentagon's hybrid force of U.S. special operations forces, foreign
mercenaries, and ex-CIA, Green Beret, and Delta Force members. Taya, like Sudanese
Vice President John Garang who died in a helicopter "accident" days
before Taya's ouster, may have become another "throw away" African leader.
The rebellious Mauritanian military officers formed the Military Council for Justice
and Democracy and plan to rule the country for two years. They named U.S.-trained
Colonel Ely Ould Mohammad Vall as chairman. Next year, U.S. oil companies will
begin to pump oil from rigs off the Mauritanian and Western Saharan coasts. The
U.S. embassy in Nouakchott was constructed by a private contractor complete with
underground tunnels and escape routes to facilitate the extraction of Mauritanian
leaders in the event of coups or failed coups. In August and September 2004, there
were two unsuccessful U.S.-backed coup attempts against Taya. Unmarked helicopters
used by the coup plotters in 2004 were supplied by U.S. forces.
Intelligence sources have also reported that "retired" U.S. military
officers with virtually unlimited budgets have recruited Mauritanian, Ivorian,
Malian, and other West African college students in the United States and groomed
them as future civilian leaders who would pledge allegiance to the United States.
Most of the targeted students come from elite families and certain tribes (for
example, the Fulani) in the West African nations. The U.S. has set up secret camps
in Mali (near Gao, Bamako, and Timbuktu) and Senegal (near Dakar) to train rebel
groups that would be poised to take over any Sahelian country where Islamists
gain or threaten to gain power.
U.S. paratroopers in Flintlock
05 exercise near Dakar, Senegal, south of Mauritania
According to intelligence sources, the Hallburton subsidiary of Kellogg, Brown
& Root, a top covert operations contractor for the Pentagon, has established
a secret base in southern Libya under the guise of a water pipeline construction
project, to train Mauritanian, Western Saharan, and Tuareg cadres.
Meanwhile, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement of the late Dr. John Garang,
not content with media claims that Garang's death in a Russian-built Mi-76 Ugandan
helicopter was an accident, has asked for an international probe of the crash.
Garang was replaced by his deputy Salva Kiir Maydarit. Ugandan President Yoweri
Museveni stated that his government has approached "a certain foreign government"
to rule out sabotage or terrorism -- a none too subtle reference to Sudan. Sudan,
unlike Uganda, does not have a track record with aerial assassinations like
the 1994 shooting down of the Rwanda One aircraft carrying the Rwandan and Burundian
presidents, which was planned by Ugandan, Rwandan exile, and U.S. forces.
JUNE 10, 2005
Noukchott, 10 June (AKI) - Following the recent slaying of 17 government soldiers
in a terrorist attack on a military base in northern Mauritania, the United
States has sent a contingent of 2,000 soldiers, as well as helicopters, to the
area, the United Arab Emirates daily 'Al-Kalheej' reported on Friday. The US
troops will use military bases set up in the desert in Mauritania and Mali three
years ago as part of the war on terror.
The US battalion's mission is to help Mauritanian troops patrol the country's
northern border with Algeria, where militants from the Algerian extremist formation,
the Salafite Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), have been entering the country.
The GSPC claimed responsibility for last Saturday's deadly attack on the remote
military base, although the Mauritanian authorities maintain the attack, in
which 17 soldiers were killed, was the work of Mauritanian and Mali extremists,
linked to a few GSPC and smugglers operating along the borders between Algeria,
Mali and Mauritania.
Analaysts say the GSPC took responsiblity for carrying out the attacks on the
detachment of the Mauritanian army in an attempt to get back in favour with
al-Qaeda, which the analysts allege has lately been distancing itself from the
GSPC, due to the high number of defections in its ranks.
The stand-off between the GSPC and al-Qaeda is said to have begun April when
Tunisian police arrested ten alleged terrorists heading to the Algerian mountains
to join guerilla training camps. The ten were reportedly preparing a major attack
against the capital Tunis, but Tunisian police managed to uncover the cell as
a result of informants within the Algerian Salafite group.
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