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Last Updated: Monday, 8 August 2005, 11:34 GMT 12:34 UK
Secrets in the Sand
First broadcast August 2005
Military personnel
In the last few years, the Sahara desert has become a focus of interest for the US military - vast and thinly populated with porous borders - it is seen by Washington as a perfect hideout for terrorists.

The BBC's Catherine Fellows sets out to separate fact from fiction in this two part series and asks how do people living there feel about their home being labelled a terror zone?

Part 1: Flintlock 2005

The US military has just concluded a major training operation in the Sahel region - Flintlock 2005 - which it describes as its biggest exercise in Africa since the Second World War.

But what is the justification for such a presence in the region? The two main examples of so-called terror in the Sahara are the kidnapping of thirty two European tourists in 2003, and an attack on a Mauritanian army outpost this June.

PICTURE GALLERY

But were these really terrorist attacks? An Islamist Group, the GSPC, or Salafi Group for Preaching and Combat, has claimed responsibility, but many theories abound as to the true nature of these incidents.

Secrets in the Sand travels to Senegal, Mauritania and Mali to investigate the claims and counter-claims.

The programme is produced and presented by Catherine Fellows, with assistance from Mike McGovern of the International Crisis Group.


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