Mali Islamist group wants to reunite nation as Islamic state
An armed Islamist group occupying northern Mali said Thursday it hopes to win over the country’s south to its ideology and create an Islamic state.
Ansar Dine (Defenders of Faith) is one of the groups holding key northern cities in a four-month occupation which has effectively split the west African nation in two.
“We hope to be able to peacefully convince the people of this country (southern Mali) to join us so that all our efforts can be directed against the common enemy,” Ansar Dine spokesman Senda Ould Boumama told an Islamist website called “Defenders of Jihadists”.
The “common enemy” was described as non-Muslim “miscreants”.
Boumama said this expansion of Ansar Dine’s authority would be done along two main axes, the primary being enforcing Islamic law, or sharia.
“The priority will remain the application of sharia, education, preaching and training of future generations in Islamic precepts and moral values,” he said.
The second goal would be to “avoid harm being brought to other jihadists in the world,” he added.
Boumama said his movement must “be patient and make the necessary human and material sacrifices” to reach its goals by adopting an inclusive policy to bring residents of the north around to its mission and help achieve it.
He said Ansar Dine had not yet adopted a position on the “artificial borders” between countries in the Sahel.
“We know that on principle, according to our religious beliefs, accepting these borders is equivalent to accepting the hegemony of the wicked global colonial order,” he said.
Ansar Dine, along with the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), both allied to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, have held more than two-thirds of Mali’s territory since late March.
On Wednesday MUJAO cut off a thief’s hand, 10 days after Ansar Dine publicly stoned an unmarried couple to death.