Last updated on March 10th, 2023 at 08:37 am
The United States of America is the only country in the Sahel region that has not been the target of any assaults since 2011. Four jihadists broke out of a Nouakchott prison on Sunday night and killed two police officers before being caught. According to a statement released by the Ministry of the Interior on March 6, 2023, “at 9 p.m. on March 5, 2023, four terrorists were able to escape from the central prison in Nouakchott by attacking the guards.” This led to an exchange of fire that killed two National Guard members and left two others with minor injuries.
The identities of the people on the run have not been made public at this time. A military official who asked to remain anonymous said that two of them had been sentenced to death and that the other two were waiting to be tried for being part of a terrorist group. All four of them are charged with membership in a terrorist organization. According to the same source, their automobile had been discovered to the northeast of Nouakchott. Since 1987, the country of Mauritania has not utilized the use of the execution penalty.
“The National Guard has tightened its control over the prison and has already started looking for the fugitives so they can be caught as soon as possible,” the ministry said, asking people for any information that could help catch them. The cooperation of the population in the fight against jihadism is an important part of the security system that keeps the country safe, even though jihadism is spreading in the countries around the Sahel region.
Despite having a population of four million people, Mauritania has not been the target of an attack on its soil since 2011. This is in contrast to neighboring Mali, which has been counting its deceased as a result of a jihadist insurgency that started in 2012. In the 2000s, however, these groups made it a regular target of their violence, attacking and kidnapping people there on a regular basis.
Along with Burkina Faso, Niger, and Chad, Mauritania is a member of the G5 Sahel, which Mali left in 2022. This group is a group of people from France, the United States, and the United Nations who work together to fight jihadists. Paris says that it works with Nouakchott a lot on security and defense, in addition to helping with development. Increased budgets, new equipment, salaries given to the bank, and social support for the military are some of the ways the authorities in Mauritius are working to retain soldiers while also investing in the training of new recruits.
In addition, Mauritania promotes dialogue as a means of winning the war of ideas. A conversation was set up in 2010 between the most prominent ulama and approximately seventy jihadists who were serving time in prison. Around fifty of them end up changing their minds thanks to the religious leaders’ efforts. Some of them are then put on television or taken to churches to preach to young people that participating in jihad is not the path that should be followed.
More than five hundred imams are brought in, and young people who are graduating from madras (traditional Islamic institutions) are provided with opportunities for professional development. According to the official news service, more recently, in 2022, President Mohamed Ould Cheikh El Ghazouani of Mauritanian granted amnesty to eight prisoners who had been convicted of “terrorism” in an effort to “fight” extremism through “dialogue.”
Since the time of Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, the country’s former president (2008–2019), Mauritania has had many talks with its jihadist prisoners. The goal of these sessions is to acquire the prisoners’ repentance and to reintegrate them into society. There were approximately thirty of them who had already benefited from this.
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