Hamza El-Fulani, Abderrahmane El-Fulani and Abderrahmane El-Ansari were the three attackers who killed 18 people in Grand Bassam, a seaside town several miles from Abidjan according to a statement released by Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). According to the statement, the attackers simply followed the instructions of their superiors; they planned, studied prospective targets, collected information and then attacked. In addition to releasing the names of the perpetrators, AQIM also blamed the terrorist attack on revenge against France and its offensive against Islamist militants in the Sahel region. The attack was a warning to the West in response to the crimes committed by the French army and its government in Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq, Cham (Syria), Yemen , Somalia, Libya, Mali and the Central African Republic.
A Recurrent Dilemma: Why Are These Hotels Targeted?
The attack in Grand Bassam is the first of its kind in Ivory Coast, but the third in the region since November of 2015. It is also a major blow for France, who lost four of its nationals when the gunmen opened fire on the tourists, foreigners and nationals alike. Earlier in January 2016, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb claimed responsibility for the attack on the Cappuccino restaurant and the Splendid Hotel in the heart of Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso. According to the SITE Intelligence Group, AQIM blamed the attack on revenge against France and the disbelieving West. About thirty people were killed including two French Nationals. Similarly, in November 2015, Al-Mourabitoun and Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) claimed responsibility for the attack on the Radisson Blu Hotel in Bamako, Mali. At least 22 people were killed in the attack with several more wounded. By the time Malian and U.N. security forces rushed in and ended the siege hours later, bodies were scattered across the floors of the Hotel. Several people were held hostage including several French nationals but were later freed with the arrival of the Malian Special Forces. According to Mauritanian news agency Al Akhbar, the terrorists blamed the attack on revenge against France and demanded the release of prisoners being held in France. Secondly, the news agency reported that the attack was also carried out in retaliation for government aggression in northern Mali.
High Prospects for New Attacks
AQIM and the other terrorist groups involved in the recent attacks have limited their attacks to prominent hotels with a high expatriate presence. This fact, to an extent, may or may not corroborate AQIM’s claim of revenge against the unbelieving West and France in particular. However, AQIM has warned Ivory Coast and other nations, especially “those countries in alliance with France”, against the colonization of their lands and the aggression of their people and sacred symbols. AQIM has also asked France to withdraw its troops from the Sahel region or face the insecurity of its citizens.
There is a high possibility of new attacks in the region considering the porous borders of the Sahel nations. It is, therefore, not surprising that the terrorists could get into Ivory Coast and all the way into the South of the country. It is practical to assume that this attack will not be the last in the region.