The presence of al Qaeda in the Maghreb (AQIM) may be interpreted as the opening of a new front in the cause of international jihad. However, terrorist activity in North Africa is not new, for the region has been convulsed by past jihadist insurgencies. The essay argues that AQIM is a response to jihadists' post-9/11 organizational and ideological problems. The loss of al Qaeda's Afghan sanctuary had made it dependent on affiliates to recruit terrorists. The failure of the North African Salafists to overthrow any government, moreover, requires the commissioning of a new cause. AQIM is a mutually beneficial arrangement among jihadists to compensate for past failures.

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