Wait, do these people know Obama defeated al-Qaeda?

(AFP) — Dozen of Algerian jihadists have arrived in the Malian city of Timbuktu to support armed Islamist groups who are imposing an increasingly brutal version of sharia law in the vast northern areas under their control, security sources said Sunday.

The latest influx of foreigners joining the Al-Qaeda linked Islamists was revealed as interim authorities in Bamako postponed a key conference to plan the country’s transition back to democracy and tackle the crisis in the occupied north.

The fragility of the interim regime and unclear plans to complete the transition back to democracy after a March coup are key concerns as plans are being finalised for regional military intervention to drive out the militants.

As plans for the internationally-backed intervention force take shape, reports have increased of Sudanese, Algerian and other west Africans joining the jihadists’ ranks.

“Dozens of Algerian jihadists arrived in Timbuktu this weekend to reinforce the AQIM (Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb) camp,” a regional security source told AFP.

He said the fabled city of Timbuktu was “increasingly becoming the headquarters of AQIM in northern Mali.”

Regional security sources said in early November that dozens of young Europeans and Africans living in Europe had also attempted to join the Islamists in northern Mali.

On Friday a suspected French jihadist was arrested on the border between Mauritania and an area of northern Mali.

“The arrival of more and more Islamist reinforcements” is to be expected, a Malian security source said on Sunday.

Two weeks ago the jihadists began going door-to-door to arrest women who were not wearing veils.

Also on Sunday, three Congolese citizens were arrested in Timbuktu after refusing to listen to an Islamic sermon because they are Catholic, a local government official told AFP.

“They were thrown into one of the Islamists’ prisons in Timbuktu,” he said.