Anyone who thinks that this means that Ansar Dine won’t be carrying out any more stonings and amputations is woefully misinformed. They don’t consider carrying out penalties clearly prescribed in Islamic law to be any kind of “extremism and terrorism.” They consider that to be simple justice. What they most likely mean by this declaration is that they oppose Israel and the U.S.
“North Mali Islamist group says it rejects violence,” by Brahima Ouedraogo for the Associated Press, November 6 (thanks to Kenneth):
OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso (AP) — An Islamist group carrying out public executions and amputations in northern Mali said Tuesday that it rejects “all forms of extremism and terrorism” and called upon other armed organizations controlling the region, including a branch of al-Qaida, to engage in political talks with the government.
The turnabout was announced by a representative of an Ansar Dine delegation that has been holding talks for the last several days with mediators in the capital of neighboring Burkina Faso.
The meetings in Burkina Faso appear to be part of a new, regional attempt to set up negotiations to resolve the Mali crisis ahead of a possible military intervention that is expected to be led by African forces with logistical backing from the European Union and the United States. France is heading the international effort to plan the military campaign to end the occupation by Ansar Dine and other Islamists in Mali’s north.
It was not immediately clear how Ansar Dine’s declaration would affect its imposition of strict Islamic law in the northern Mali territory under its control. Nor was it clear whether the delegation in Ouagadougou represents all elements within Ansar Dine, which has links to the al-Qaida terror network….
Ansar Dine is one of three Islamist groups controlling Mali’s north, and its members are believed to be mostly Malians. The membership of the two other groups, one of them al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, consists primarily of foreign fighters.
Although Ansar Dine has imposed strict Islamic law, including carrying out punishments such as amputating the hands of thieves and stoning to death a couple who had children out of wedlock, authorities believe the group is the most open to negotiation because its fighters are Malian nationals with ties to the area….