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AQIM, kidnapping, and murder: a brief history

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(Read caption) The flag-draped bodies of gendarmes who were killed in the confrontation with probable members of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb are seen at a ceremony in Niamey on Jan. 10. France's Defence Minister travelled to meet with Niger authorities and members of the French community after two French nationals were kidnapped from a restaurant Friday evening and had probably been executed before a confrontation with French and Niger forces over the weekend.

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Over the long weekend I entered into a conversation/debate with a few folks on Twitter, including Andrew Lebovich, Xavier Rauscher, and itsme_leclerc, concerning the pros and cons of ransom payments and armed rescues in Sahelian hostage crises. Feeling constrained by Twitter’s character limit, I started to write up my thoughts on different ways to prevent or resolve the ransoms vs. rescues dilemma. But then I realized it would be good to write a background piece laying out the key kidnapping incidents in the Sahel from 2007 (AQIM’s official birthdate) to the present. With that background in place, I hope to write a piece later in the week going deeper into the key issues.


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