Al-Qaeda in North Africa has urged Muslim youths to stay in their countries to battle secularism but said jihadists should travel to fight "Crusader France" in Algeria and Mali, a monitoring group said Sunday.
In a message posted on jihadist websites, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) cited fatwas, or religious edicts, to encourage Muslim youths against deserting their countries, SITE monitoring service reported.
AQIM said that Muslim youths in Tunisia and other north African countries "should not clear the field for the secularists and other expatriates to sow corruption on the earth."
Likewise, said AQIM, jihadists in Tunisia, Morocco, Libya and Mauritania should head to Mali and Algeria "to thwart the attack of Crusader France and defeat its agents in the region."
French deployed forces in Mali earlier this year to help stop Qaeda-linked fighters who had controlled northern Mali, near the Algerian border, since April 2012 from moving southward and threatening the capital Bamako.
Some 4,000 French troops are presently on the ground in Mali where they have been fighting the Islamists.