BAMAKO, June 13 (Xinhua) -- A leader of Tuaregs dominating Mali's North is calling for the deviation from the Ansar Dine group because of its links to the Al-Qaida branch in northern Africa (AQIM).
The patriarch of Ifoghas Tuaregs, Intalla Ag Attaher, wrote a letter to his children, traditional chiefs and ulemas (Muslim legal scholars), urging them to "immediately desert the Ansar Dine group because of its links to Al-Qaida."
The letter published on Wednesday was written by one of the most respected personalities in northern Mali, intensifying the indication of the rejection of ideals propagated by Ansar Dine.
"I appeal to all those who are my friends, the heads of communities as well as some of my children who are still members of Ansar Dine to desert it because we have discovered that it's part of Al-Qaida," Intalla wrote in his letter dated June 8.
The letter marked the rift between Tuareg separatists aiming to establish an independent Azawad state and Ansar Dine headed by Iyad Ag Ghaly attempting to impose strict sharia law (Islamic law) across Mali.
The two sides signed an agreement on May 26 only to cancel it a week later. They joined forces to carve up the North after the March 22 military coup, with differences looming immediately afterwards.
Well placed sources told Xinhua that of the patriarch's family, Alghebass Ag Intalla is still a member of Ansar Dine. His daughter Nina Wallet Intalla is an influential member of the Tuareg rebel MNLA and is staying in neighboring Mauritania. Another son to the elderly Intalla is also a member of the MNLA.
An observer, who did not wish to be named, said, "A position like the one taken by the elderly patriarch may considerably affect the morale of Ansar Dine given that the ex-parliamentarian and another son to the patriarch are the main leaders of this Islamist group."
Some people, however, have doubts over the authenticity of the letter, while others indicate that the authenticity of the letter "does not leave any ambiguity" for anyone who understands the position of the said patriarch of Ifoghas.
"Such a letter coming from the elderly Intalla does not surprise me at all. In fact, during the meeting that was held on April 25 in Gao, he had sent a letter written in Tissinare (Tuareg writing) in which he had disapproved the cooperation with Ansar Dine. However, the translator reversed the contents of the letter, " a source in Gao said.
The letter from the patriarch was written after the protests by the Kidal youths and women on June 5-7.