Mauritanian jihadist threatens attacks against France

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The leader of an Al Qaeda-linked terrorist group on trial in Mauritania used a court appearance on Wednesday to threaten attacks against France and its interests in the northwest African country.

"I want here to promise them, black nights are awaiting France and (President Nicolas) Sarkozy," Khadim Ould Semman, the leader of the Ansarou Allah (Supporters of God) organisation, told the court in the Mauritanian capital.

Ould Semman is one of 19 suspected members of the group being tried for the 2008 murder of a policeman. His group is linked to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the north African wing of the terrorist network.

The militant singled out France among the "infidels and apostates" who would be physically liquidated in Mauritania by Islamic fighters.

Prosecutors are seeking the death sentence for Ould Semman, who exploited media coverage of a spiritual dialogue in Mauritania's prisons at the beginning of this year by being filmed wearing a tee-shirt on which Al-Qaeda was written.

"I am a mujahideen. I have spent my life on this mission and ask the court to give me the death sentence and cut me into small pieces. This will increase my reward in the after-life, he said.

Lawyers of the 19 defendants say prosecutors lack proof, and complain the men have been mistreated in detention.

AQIM kidnapped five French nationals, a Madagascan and a Togolese from an uranium mining town in Niger on September 16. It is believed to be holding them in a mountainous desert region in northeastern Mali.

Thirty French soldiers took part in a Mauritanian army offensive against a AQIM unit in Mali in July, hoping to find French hostage Michel Germaneau, who was executed two days later.

© 2010 AFP

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