AQIM warns France, allies face threat after Mali

DAKAR, Senegal (AP) - Al-Qaida's North Africa branch on Thursday threatened to seek revenge against all countries taking part in the French-led war in Mali, warning that no one who has participated will be safe.

Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM, had taken written questions from international journalists.

On Thursday, it released a 28-page document outlining responses to the questions in English via the Twitter account for its media arm, Al-Andalus Media.

"No one who participated in this ferocious attack on our people in north Mali will be safe," it said.

The group said it was with "our brothers and people in Mali in one trench, until we liberate it from the crusader French operation or perish before our children, women and brothers. Their blood is blood, and our destruction is our destruction."

AQIM said it was using Twitter as just another way to spread their message.

"We are an inalienable part of this world, we live our time and benefit from every mean that serves our goals and clarifies the equity of our cause to the international public opinion who is unaware of a lot of facts," the statement said.

But the group also used the forum to reach out to possible recruits, saying: "We need all the specialties like such as medicine, chemistry, electronics and manufacturing arms" among other skill sets.

AQIM operates 7,000-kilometer (4,300-mile)-long strip across the Sahel region, including not only Mali but also portions of Mauritania, Niger, Algeria, Libya, Burkina Faso and Chad,

The al-Qaida affiliate, which became part of the terror network in 2006, is one of three Islamist groups in northern Mali. Analysts agree that there is considerable overlap among the groups, and that all three can be considered sympathizers, even extensions, of al-Qaida.

AQIM is still believed to be holding five French hostages after announcing earlier this year it had killed one of them. On Thursday, the group said the fate of the remaining captives "is in the hands of French President Francois Hollande and the door is still open to find a just solution."

The group declined to comment on how many casualties it has suffered since the French-led war began in January to oust it and the other Islamists from northern Mali.

AQIM, however, alluded to the fact that not only was France a potential target, but also West African nations who have contributed troops to the effort.

Chad recently said it would be withdrawing its troops, though other forces will remain from Burkina Faso, Ghana, Guinea, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Niger and Togo.

"We are fighting for our religion, money and honors and victory will be ours Allah willing even if the whole world united against us, because we are people of a just cause while the French soldier has no cause except the desire of the major companies to absorb the resources of the people cheaply," AQIM said in the statement. "And the African soldier is not better than him."

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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