Known mainly for its place in a worn-out cliché, Timbuktu is on the verge of gaining recognition for something else, something far more sinister. A journalist from the left-leaning Italian magazine, L’espresso, has revealed that Timbuktu, Mali has become the new al-Qaeda outpost for launching terror missions.
Translated into English from the L’espresso article by Fabrizio Gatti:
We are on the border of the new kingdom of Al Qaeda, the free zone that is becoming what Sudan and Afghanistan used to be. The track that accompanies the latest generation of terrorists to training camps passes at the feet of these immense rusty dunes by sunset. A few kilometers north of Timbuktu, the mysterious city of Mali: ten centuries meeting place between black Africa and the Arab conquests and a few months the border post between tolerance and fanaticism. Among them, exists a commando of 15 mujahedin that tell and pride themselves on wanting to hit the Vatican. The commander is a lame Algerian, but the mind behind the plan would be his deputy: a fellow who is just over thirty years old and has lived in Italy.
But remember, this isn’t a religious war. Hitting the Vatican is just a political exercise which has absolutely nothing to do with a secret desire to spook and intimidate Christians by destroying one of Christianity’s greatest symbols.
In Mali, in the great desert north of the river Niger, Al Qaeda is building its future, one that is still possible without having to fight. It’s a territory where terrorists are preparing to use weapons and explosives, hiding commanders that have escaped from Iraq, organizing attacks, and using mobile and impenetrable training camps.