Thursday, February 14, 2013

AP Finds Purported Al-Qaida Letter Left Behind in Timbuktu that Criticizes Cultural Property Destruction

Rukmini Callimachi of AP has a new piece (here) about a document "al-Qaida fighters left behind" in Timbuktu:
Tucked under a pile of papers and trash is a confidential letter, spelling out the terror network's strategy for conquering northern Mali and reflecting internal discord over how to rule the region.
The AP states that the document is "an unprecedented window into the terrorist operation, indicating that al-Qaida predicted the military intervention that would dislodge it in January and recognized its own vulnerability."  The letter was "found by the AP in a building occupied by the Islamists for almost a year" and it "is signed by Abu Musab Abdul Wadud, the nom de guerre of Abdelmalek Droukdel, the senior commander appointed by Osama bin Laden to run al-Qaida's branch in Africa."

In the letter Droukdel "surprisingly argues that his fighters moved too fast and too brutally in applying the Islamic law known as Shariah to northern Mali."  Of particular interest to the issue of destroyed cultural property, the Droukdel letter "criticizes the destruction of Timbuktu's World Heritage-listed shrines," among other things, on the basis that:
Our previous experience proved that applying Shariah this way, without taking the environment into consideration, will lead to people rejecting the religion, and engender hatred toward the mujahedeen, and will consequently lead to the failure of our experiment.

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