08/01/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

France Burqa Stance Elicits Al Qaeda Threat

Following an imbroglio in France in late June when President Nicolas Sarkozy declared the burqa to be unwelcome and against French values, al Qaeda is threatening retaliation. According to CNN, the extremist group has listed threats on extremist Islamic websites that include:

"We will not tolerate such provocations and injustices, and we will take our revenge from France ... by every means and wherever we can reach them ... Our Muslim brothers in France in particular and in Europe in general are increasingly troubled by the practices of the French politicians and their leaders, and their constant harassments of our people regarding the burqa issue"

The statement was signed by one Abu Musab Abdul Wadud who claims to be the "commander of al Qaeda in North Africa [Islamic Maghreb]." CNN notes that it is unable to authenticate the statement.

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) was originally a militant Islamist movement against Algeria's secular government in the early 90s. It has since spread its geographic and political influence. According to the Council on Foreign Relations:

Terrorist activity in North Africa has been reinvigorated in the last few years by a local Algerian Islamist group turned pan-Maghreb jihadi organization: al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). A Sunni group that previously called itself the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), the organization has taken responsibility for a number of terrorist attacks in the region, declared its intention to attack Western targets, and sent a squad of jihadis to Iraq. Experts believe these actions suggest widening ambitions within the group's leadership, now pursuing a more global, sophisticated, and better-financed direction. Long categorized as part of a strictly domestic insurgency against Algeria's military government, AQIM claims to be the local franchise operation for al-Qaeda, a worrying development for a region that has been relatively peaceful since the bloody Algerian civil war of the 1990s drew to a close. European officials are taking AQIM's international threats seriously and are worried about the growing number of Europe-based cells, states this Europol Report (PDF).

CFR's full bio is here.

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