Several hours after terrorists speaking in English with Nigerian accents invaded the Raddison hotel in the Malian capital of Bamako, the United Nations, the United States and France sent troops to the landlocked African country.
From the Associated Press:
United Nations deputy spokesman Farhan Haq says U.N. “quick-reaction forces” have been deployed to the siege area at the Radisson Blu hotel and are supporting Malian and other security forces.
France also sent in troops:
Separately, the French Defense Ministry says a unit of French soldiers has arrived in Bamako in support of Malian security forces. It did not specify how many soldiers were involved.
The US military is assisting the French:
Col. Mark R. Cheadle, a spokesman for the U.S. Africa Command, says the U.S. military hasn’t received any other requests for help responding to the attack, but that the United States will continue assisting the French with intelligence and surveillance in Mali…
A spokesman for the U.S. Africa Command says U.S. military forces stationed in Mali are helping to secure the scene of the hotel attack in Mali.
Col. Mark R. Cheadle says American military personnel “have helped move civilians to secure locations, as Malian forces work to clear the hotel of hostile gunmen.”
A joint special operations team consisting of 26 U.S. personnel was already in Mali assisting the French with intelligence, as well as helping to organizing air refueling for allied aircraft and air logistics.
U.S. State Dept. spokesman John Kirby says Americans “might be present at the hotel,” and that the U.S. Embassy in Bamako is working to verify this.
It is not known what group pulled off the attack. A US defense official, however, said it was likely an al-Qaeda offshoot and not the Islamic State.
No extremist group had claimed credit for the assault on the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako as of Friday morning.
U.S. Army Gen. David Rodriguez, head of U.S. Africa Command, says the most likely culprit is al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM, which maintains a strong presence in the region and remains at war with French forces in Mali.
In 2006 al-Qaeda joined forces with the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat and the following year the group changed its name to the Al-Qaeda Organization in the Islamic Maghreb. AQIM established a close relationship with the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) the same year.
Jama’a al-Islamiyyah al-Muqatilah bi-Libya, aka the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, was founded in 1995 by a group of mujahideen veterans who had fought against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. The mujahideen operation was run by the CIA, Pakistan’s ISI, and the Saudis. It eventually became al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and assorted jihadists.
LIFG worked with MI6 in a plot to assassinate Libyan leader Gaddifi in 1996.
Members of the defunct Armed Islamic Group, or Groupe islamique armé (GIA), joined AQIM. The GIA is a creation of Algerian intelligence.
In 1995 a series of deadly attacks in France were blamed on the GIA. The bombing of the Paris subway and other attacks mobilized French public opinion against the Islamic opposition in Algeria and permitted the French government to abandoned a peace plan in the country.
“It cannot be excluded that Algerian intelligence may have been implicated” in one of the bombings, said the French Interior Minister Jean-Louis Debré.