For centuries the Tuareg and Fulani have lived as nomads herding animals and trading. REUTERS
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NIAMEY/NAIROBI: When Doundou Chefou first took up arms as a youth a decade ago, it was for the same reason as many other ethnic Fulani herders along the Niger-Mali border: to protect his livestock. He had nothing against the Republic of Niger, let alone the United States of America. Yet on Oct. 4 this year, he led dozens of militants allied to Daesh (ISIS) in a deadly assault against allied U.S.-Niger forces, killing four soldiers from each nation and demonstrating how dangerous the West's mission in the Sahel has become.GENESIS OF A JIHADFor centuries the Tuareg and Fulani have lived as nomads herding animals and trading – Tuareg mostly across the dunes and oases of the Sahara and the Fulani mostly in the Sahel, a vast band of semi-arid scrubland that stretches from Senegal to Sudan beneath it.In November 2013, a young Nigerien Fulani had a row with a Tuareg chief over money.Over the next week, heavily armed Tuareg slaughtered 46 Fulani in revenge attacks along the Mali-Niger border.Sahrawi recruited dozens of Fulani into the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa, which was loosely allied to Al-Qaeda in the region and controlled Gao and the area to the Niger border in 2012 .
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