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‘Gambians may have joined jihadist groups in Libya’

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By Alagie Manneh

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and Gambians Abroad, Dr Mamadou Tangara, has disclosed that Gambian migrants in Libya are being radicalised and recruited into jihadist movements. He however did not specify by which group, or the exact number of Gambians who might have signed up to these extremist movements.

Addressing a press conference Monday, Dr Tangara further stated that government will take this matter seriously   and that a delegation of ministers and security experts has already begun the process of undertaking a mission to the war-torn North African country.

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“Some of them [Gambian migrants], unfortunately, according to the information we got are enlisted in these jihadist groups. So, it’s important that thorough check is done, and since we don’t have the expertise as the foreign ministry, we would need to go with the experts,” he told journalists.

The minister said the jihadist groups take advantage of the poverty of susceptible youths to entice them into their movements. “Poverty is [a] fertile ground for all these movements. We have even seen countries where they easily enlist people without them even having any knowledge of the Qur’an. When you are desperate, they easily get you involved in this kind of movement, and that is why we do not have to take it lightly. In fact, I had a conversation with a group of returnees from Libya and they themselves were drawing our attention to this phenomenon that government has to be very careful,” the minister said.

He went on to disclose that in November 2022, the ministry sent a consular mission to Libya that secured the release of over 300 Gambian migrants under immigration detention. “The State of Libya has been a destination and transit to many Gambian migrants,” Dr Tangara said, adding that currently, there are about 18,000 Gambians in Libya, either resident or on transit to Europe.  The minister said the delegation was able to engage the relevant Libyan authorities on the plight and welfare of Gambian migrants.

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