The document, left behind by al Qaeda militants fleeing the French intervention in Mali, offers a unique insight into strategy and ambitions of
the infamous terrorist network. To may its contents will come as a surprise – al Qaeda’s top man in Africa is urging his commanders to present a softer face to win the hearts and minds of the people.
Al Qaeda’s Manifesto for Mali
The manifesto, signed by Abu Musab Abdul Wadud – the nom de guerre of Abdelmalek Droukdel and the man appointed by Osama bin Laden to run al-Qaida’s operations in Africa – urges the network’s fighters to be more gentle in their application of Sharia law, and criticizes the whipping of women and the destruction of Timbuktu‘s ancient monuments.
Comparing the relationship between al Qaeda and Mali to the relationship between a parent and a child it says:
“The current baby is in its first days, crawling on its knees, and has not yet stood on its two legs. If we really want it to stand on its own two feet in this world full of enemies waiting to pounce, we must ease its burden, take it by the hand, help it and support it until its stands.”
Droukdel then goes on emphasise the importance of restraint in the application of Sharia law, in order to avoid turning the public against them: