The Algerian Security forces have discovered a weapons cache containing 11 surface-to-air missiles near the country’s border with Mali, the defense ministry announced yesterday.

“After a search operation in the country’s border town of Bordj Badji Mokhtar, the Algerian People’s National Armed Forces found an ammunition cache containing 11 anti-tank missiles the ministry said in a statement.”

The Algerian government did not provide further details about the arms smugglers, nor are any media outlets reporting on which group might be responsible for smuggling such weapons. The operation comes a day after an announcement by the military about a discovery of “an ammunition cache containing 20 mortar rounds and 120 kilograms of ammonium nitrate that is used in explosive manufacturing” in the same area. On the 1st of December, reports have come from the same area of another weapons cache in the same town consisting of “41 anti-tank missiles and another one carrying various small arms weapons in the same border town.”

The Algerian army was recently reported to have foiled a number of attempts on infiltrating weapons across the country’s southern borders. In recent years, the Algerian government has mobilized its military troops on the country’s southern borders with Mali, Niger, and the eastern borders with Tunisia and Libya, to prevent what it described as, “the infiltration of terrorist groups and smuggling of all trades.”

The town if Bordj Badji Mokhtar is approximately 150km from Mali; it shares a vast border space with Mali. With the area being so vast, it makes it almost impossible to track or find the pre-existing smuggling routes — which have been used by a number of armed bandits groups and terrorist organizations over the last 20 plus years. There are very few people or organizations that are aware of the current smuggling routes used by the bandits, smugglers, human traffickers, and terrorist groups. Even fewer people are aware of how to find and navigate such routes.

Through my time investigating armed groups and terrorist organizations operating in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso, I have come to know one thing: the key to navigating through this very vast region is the Tuareg people. I have a number of sources within the Tuareg community, and they have told me on multiple occasions that it is their people who provide the logistical support to arms smugglers, human traffickers, and also terrorist organizations operating in the region.

 

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“This is one of my old maps, the orange handgun logo is used to represent the weapon cache. This is to give you idea on the area etc.”

This is largely due to the nature of the Tuareg people. They are a nomadic tribe that, throughout the decades, have spanned through Algeria, Mali, Niger, Libya, Burkina Faso, and Chad. They have, over these years, cultivated the knowledge and the means to navigate through the area — to most people it is impossible. Based on their knowledge and their ability to know these routes, such groups employ them as drivers and navigators to get them across multiple borders during the day or night.

My conclusion to several debates is if you want to stop terrorism in sub-Saharan Africa, start in the Sahel region! Work with the Tuareg community to identify the smuggling routes and you will find the terrorism within the area will undoubtedly come to an end.