Alghabass Ag Intalla is undoubtedly one of the most important players in the drama that is current unfolding in the far north east of Mali. An opportunity to interview him was one that I could not refuse.
There are facts about Al Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) that are reassuringly hard and verifiable. The organisation exists. It’s run by Algerian Arabs. It’s made a home from home in the north east of Mali, on Tinariwen’s native earth. It earns millions and millions of euros from kidnapping westerners. No one knows exactly how much. Every now and then it chops the head off one of its victims. All in the service of a dream that has become a nightmare for the people of the Sahara
The situation along the demarcation line that separates Islamist-held northern Mali from the south of the country is agonizingly confusing. How can we look through the sandstorm that surrounds the current Islamist advance south towards Mopti and the Malian heartlands.