The involvement of the polisario in terrorist acts in the Sahelo-Saharan region has once again been singled out in a report funded by the European Commission, which confirms the collusion of the separatists with terrorist groups operating in the region.
According to this study by “Project Safte”, an international research project investigating terrorists’ access to the illegal firearms trade, which was reported Wednesday by the Flemish Institute for Peace, the Sahelo-Saharan region has experienced violent incidents involving MUJAO, the Polisario Front and Ansar Dine during the period 2010-2016.
The report entitled “Illicit gun markets and firearms acquisition of terrorist networks in Europe”, prepared by an international group of firearms experts, notes that collusion between the polisario and terrorist groups operating in the region has been facilitated by the situation in Libya, the porous borders and the inability of central authorities in some countries in the region to control their vast territory.
According to this document, “the capacity of states in the Sahel region to control their borders is quite limited: the rarefied and hostile desert environment is traditionally a space of circulation where the few official border-crossing points are easily bypassed by traditional smugglers and new types of traffickers.”
For “Project Safte”, the availability and circulation of weapons on the black market in the region considerably proliferated after the collapse of the Qaddafi regime and the subsequent conflicts in that country, noting that the Polisario Front has benefited from this situation and now has a “surplus of weaponry”.
In addition to its involvement in terrorism, the polisario, which, thanks to Algeria’s support and after the collapse of the Qaddafi regime in Libya, has acquired a relatively large arsenal, is now engaged in highly lucrative illegal trafficking and arms sales.
According to the report, “the polisario now has enough weapons to sell and supply the regional market”.
It notes that in the absence of a solution to the Sahara issue, the area is not impervious to smuggling activities and arms trafficking, adding that it is difficult to determine how many weapons have entered circulation in the context of the instability arising from the situation in Libya.
Quoting experts, the report warns that “some of these weapons will eventually also end up in the European Union”, recalling that in 2015 Europol publicly stated for the first time that firearms originating from the conflicts in Libya, Syria and Mali were available on the European black market, and that these countries may emerge as major sources of illegal firearms trafficked to the EU.