Recently-published email correspondence of former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton revealed that the Algerian government of Abdelaziz Bouteflika “encouraged” terrorist Mokhtar Belmokhtar to carry out attacks in Morocco’s southern regions.
The email, sent by Clinton’s aide Sidney Blumenthal on January 18, 2013, cites “a very sensitive source” close to the French General Directorate of External Security (DGSE).
“The Bouteflika government reached a highly secret understanding with Belmokhtar […] Under this agreement Belmokhtar concentrated his operations in Mali, and occasionally, with the encouragement of the Algerian DGSE, attack Moroccan interests in Western Sahara,” the email said.
According to the correspondence, the Algerian government agreed with Belmokhtar, who leads the “Signed in Blood” or “Al Mulathamun” terror group, to carry out attacks in Morocco in 2012.
Algeria and Belmokhtar reached an understanding after the terrorist and his followers kidnapped the Algerian consul and six other diplomats from the Algerian Consulate in Gao, Mali.
The terrorist, however, “betrayed” the Algerian government when his group took hundreds of foreign hostages at the Tigantourine gas facility near In Amenas, eastern Algeria, on January 16, 2013.
According to Blumenthal’s email, sent two days into the In Amenas hostage crisis, the Algerian government was “surprised and disoriented by the attacks.”
The correspondence suggests that the shock of Algerian officials was due to their prior agreement with Belmokhtar.
Morocco’s peace efforts
The Clinton emails also shed light on Morocco’s efforts to preserve peace and stability in the Sahel region. According to the report, Morocco had attempted to mediate between the “Signed in Blood” terror group and the Mauritanian government to reach a peace agreement.
“Most recently, the Mauritania Government, with the encouragement of Morocco; attempted to negotiate a settlement with Belmokhtar that would have allowed his followers to reenter normal society,” the report said.
“These negotiations broke down, however, in the summer of 2010, and the Belmokhtar group has continued its operational support of [Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb] AQIM throughout the region,” the document added.