Ivory Coast terror attack targeted American government official
An al-Qaeda-linked terror group responsible for an attack on a resort hotel in Ivory Coast on Saturday was likely targeting an American delegation headed up by an assistant Commerce Department secretary.
Assistant Secretary of Commerce Marcus Jadotte was leading a group of Americans in Grand-Bassam, including college recruiters from the University of Florida. U.S. embassy officials from the capital city of Abidjan were also included in the group, according to the source.
The delegation was supposed to arrive at the scene of the attack, Etoile du Sud, a hotel popular with Westerners. The delegation had not yet made it to the hotel when the attack occurred.
A jihadist group called Ansar Dine, or "defenders of the faith," linked to Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb was suspected of the attack, according to the source.Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb later claimed responsibility for the attack, according to a Jihad monitoring website cited by the Associated Press.
The US Embassy in Ivory Coast instructed all Americans to "shelter in place."
The U.S. ambassador to the Ivory Coast was not in the country at the time of the attack having left to attend a conference in Washington led by Secretary of State John Kerry.
But the deadly attack did leave 14 civilians and two special forces soldiers dead, as well as all six attackers, President Alassane Ouattara said, according to Reuters.
The attackers, who were "heavily armed and wearing balaclavas, fired at guests at the Etoile du Sud, a large hotel which was full of expats in the current heatwave," a witness told AFP.
Marcel Guy said he saw at least four gunmen with Kalashnikov rifles on the beach. He said one approached two children, and spoke in Arabic. One child knelt and prayed, the other child was shot dead.
The State Department doesn't go around announcing the itinerary of American diplomats traveling abroad, so if this was indeed an attack targeting the American delegation, we may have a serious breach in security somewhere.
Beyond that, the jihadists played to the script, murdering an innocent, non-Muslim child while sparing the child who could recite Islamic prayers. We are beyond being shocked by this crime, having come to expect it based on previous examples.
There appears to be a rivalry brewing between al-Qaeda groups and the Islamic State. They are competing for pretty much the same donors and recruits, so in a sick sort of way, they are trying to outdo one another in the violence and pitilessness of their attacks.
The jihadist groups are proliferating faster than we can kill them. Not a good omen.