Mali & Paris: A Show-off Between Jihadist Networks?

While the world focused on the aftermath of the Parisian attacks, gunmen toting AK-47 assault riffles held 170 hostages in a luxury hotel in Bamako, the capital of Mali on November 20th. There are many unanswered questions in relation to the event, and although the scale of the attack was smaller in terms of casualties, many foreign nationals were involved in the hostage situation and siege. President Hollande said after the events that France will “yet again stand firm and show our solidarity”, hence the country plans to increase the number of French troops deployed in the West African state. The German government plans to support France’s mission to stabilize the region, holding discussions over the deployment of 650 German soldiers to West Africa. The territory however is not an easy one to be stabilized and the UN’s peacekeeping mission to Mali has accounted for the most UN casualties in all missions.

During the nine-hour siege, the attack left at least 22 people dead and dozens wounded. After the Malian forces resolved the situation with the support of UN peacekeepers and French troops, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb  (AQIM), and the al-Qaeda offshoot organization, al-Murabitoun both claimed responsibility for the events. According to experts, the al-Murabitoun group was more likely to plot the attack, since only this year they carried out three different terror attacks in Mali. However, others say that the hotel siege was an incarnation of al-Qaeda and ISIS rivalry. The rivalry between the two terror organizations is real. Al-Qaeda, which was founded at the end of the 80s, now focuses on the battle against non-Muslims. ISIS, on the other hand, seems to be more brutal since its foundation in 2014. The two jihadist networks constantly compete for funding and recruits, and so far ISIS has been more successful in terms of extracting resources from their claimed “caliphate” in Iraq and Syria than al-Qaeda has ever been able to. So the Malian siege can also be interpreted as al-Qaeada’s “answer” for the ISIS attacks in Paris the week prior.

What does this tell about the future of terrorism? The problem is not that ISIS and al-Qaeda will try to overcome each other in brutality or the scale of their attacks as they work towards the benefit of the entire world. The real problem would be when all jihadist groups would try to present their strength through recklessly killing non-Muslims worldwide. Since jihadist have become masters of social media, we have seen new responses from hackers (especially group Anonymous) to bring down the organization. The question is, how will the world respond to a new form of terrorism that is not based on jihad but more likely on the show-off of jihadist networks?