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March 11, 2013

Trans-Saharan Challenges: Smuggling, Terrorism, and the Struggle for a State (Part 4)

Into the Modern Era

Dreams of a trans-Saharan railway began in the 1860’s but were abandoned when interest waned in the wake of the killing of Colonel Flatter and his expedition in 1881 by the Toureg tribesmen of southern Algeri15. World War One brought about a renewed interest in penetrating deeper into the Sahara to secure and maintain territory during the war. The French were also required to drive Army convoys deep into the desert to suppress Toureg uprisings between 1914 and 1919.

The war renewed interest amongst the French in establishing trans-Saharan trade routes for both economic and military purposes which would link French Algeria with their southern colonies. The construction of improved roads made it as far south as the Hoggar mountains, but the rail line never materialized. Trans-Saharan air transportation was attempted but never realized as these early airplanes lacked many navigational aids, could be batted around in the air by sudden gusts of wind, and would be absolutely destroyed by desert sandstorms.


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About the Author

is an eight year Army Special Operations veteran who served as a Sniper and Team Leader in 3rd Ranger Battalion and as a Senior Weapons Sergeant on a Military Free Fall team in 5th Special Forces Group. Having left the military in 2010, he is now working towards a degree in Political Science at Columbia University. Murphy is the author of Reflexive Fire, Target Deck, the PROMIS series, and numerous non-fiction articles about Weapons, Tactics, Special Operations, Terrorism, and Counter-Terrorism. He has appeared in documentaries, national television, and syndicated radio.

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  • TimUFR

    Very interesting. Thanks !

  • Old PH2

    @JackMurphyRGR  @Old PH2 Just pulled this in from my News feed: http://news.sky.com/story/1063100/mali-french-intervention-hits-drug-running Small excerpt: "The jihadist network in Mali has funded itself by taking foreign hostages, but also levying a tax on smugglers running drugs from Latin America to Europe. Poverty and the lack of government presence in the vast desert has provided an ideal ground for smugglers. Typically, the drugs are shipped to the Gulf of Guinea or flown in directly from countries including Venezuela into Mauritania or Mali, where they are stored and eventually taken overland to the Mediterranean's southern shores. The route is known as "Highway 10" in reference to the 10th parallel, a line of latitude which cuts through Colombia and Venezuela at one end, Guinea and Nigeria at the other and just misses Mali. In a report, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime said that around 10% of the 172 tons of pure cocaine that entered Europe in 2010 transited through West Africa."

  • LCpl_X

    JackMurphyRGR Here's a good book to start with: http://t.co/g00i3T11lo1lo Accompanied with even better musihttp://t.co/y5uLPdSZ0iPdSZ0i Enjoy!

  • LCpl_X

    JackMurphyRGR Really diggin this series, Jack.Hope ur next series will be on China/Sabah:http://t.co/FQvKMIRHK9RHKhttp://t.co/YUyecEPLl5yecEPLl5

  • JackMurphyRGR

    @Old PH2 Yeah, I think that will be the next part of this.