LONDON: Britain’s military has flown troops and heavy equipment from Ghana to Mali to support the international intervention in the West African nation, the British Defense Ministry said Thursday.
A C-17 aircraft is carrying more than 120 members of a Ghanaian engineering company with vehicles and equipment to Bamako, where they will build accommodation and assist with projects like road building as part of the African-led support mission to Mali, the ministry said.
The Ghanaian request for a C-17 was made earlier this week, it said, with the first C-17 flights taking off Monday night and continuing through the week.
The Ghanaian engineering company will “be there as long as it takes to solve the problem,” according to Col. M’Bawine Atintande, public relations director for the Ghana Armed Forces.
Meanwhile, a British newspaper reported that a document left behind in the bombed remains of an Al-Qaeda training headquarters in the Malian city of Timbuktu gives a rare insight into the organization’s thinking.
The Daily Telegraph said it had found the Arabic-language document outside a building bombed by French forces, who recently drove the Islamists from the ancient city.
The newspaper said the document was the first page of minutes from the 33rd meeting of the Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb leadership, held on March 18, 2012.
The AQIM chiefs discussed a plan to capitalize on the gains made in northern Mali by the Islamist rebel group Ansar Dine and Tuareg minority rebels. It was suggested that AQIM pushed aside the groups and took control.
At the time of the meeting, those groups had just captured a string of towns in the Sahara Desert on Mali’s northern border with Algeria.
Abou Moussab Abdel-Wadoud – a 42-year-old Algerian dubbed the “prince” of AQIM, who helped found the group in 2006 – chaired the meeting in which he outlined a “proposal and a vision for the future.”
He is recorded as saying: “We have looked carefully into it and have found it interesting and satisfactory for this period of time, therefore we thought we would present it for you to discuss and give it careful consideration.”
The plan was to praise Ansar Dine for its “victories during the latest encounters which have been carried out by our Muslim heroes on this grand desert.”
But then AQIM intended to move in and take over the cities they had gained.
Within the following two weeks, Ansar Dine and the Tuareg rebels seized Timbuktu, Kidal and Gao, the three main cities in northern Mali.
As per the plan in the document, AQIM then muscled in and took de facto control over much of the north, including arms dumps, airports and training facilities. They were dislodged by French forces who came to the Malian army’s aid.