Country Reports on Terrorism 2007 - Mauritania

The December 2007 murder of four French tourists and the attack on a military checkpoint were both low-level attacks, but highlighted the fact that AQIM was active in the country despite the newly elected government's significantly increased level of cooperation with the United States on counterterrorism. The Mauritanian Government actively pursued the perpetrators of the December attacks. The government embarked on an ambitious political agenda to build national unity.

In June, 24 of 25 individuals accused of ties to AQIM were acquitted, and the remaining defendant sentenced in absentia to two years in prison. On July 31, the court acquitted 14 of 19 persons accused of complicity in the 2005 AQIM attack on a Mauritanian military base, for lack of evidence. The remaining five defendants received sentences from two to five years. In late October, the government arrested five other individuals for suspected ties to AQIM. Three of the five were released with the remaining two currently awaiting trial on terrorism and explosives charges.

The Government of Mauritania continued working to prevent terrorist organizations, notably AQIM, from using its territory. These efforts remained constrained, however, by limited resources and training, and by the inherent challenges of controlling the sparsely-populated and porous regions bordering Algeria and Mali. The government continued to identify and respond to AQIM cells operating in country. Western Missions warned their citizens of AQIM efforts to target westerners in Mauritania, particularly those involved in the petroleum industry.

The new government established a new counterterrorism force which, despite USG assistance, was not fully functional at year's end. The Mauritanian Army Camel Corps, responsible for patrolling the eastern border regions of the country, participated in USG antiterrorism training and the Mauritanian military participated in USG-sponsored regional counterterrorism exercises.


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