North Africa is the newest hot spot in the fight against Islamic terrorism. The spread of radical Islamist groups has the United States and the West concerned it could become a base for terror networks.
That's why French forces are in Mali, driving Islamic terrorists out of the northern towns they've occupied for more than a year.
Gao residents danced in the street, celebrating their town's liberation from the intruders.
Are attacks like this on the rise? CBN News Terrorism Analyst Erick Stakelbeck has more, on CBN Newswatch, Feb. 1
But their joy soon turned to anger, with Mali citizens looting Islamic police headquarters and lashing out against any sign of the 10 months of oppression they endured.
During that time, Islamists amputated the hands of two men for supporting the Malian government.
"Islamic police cut (off) my hand and showed it to the crowds," one man said.
Another said, "Jihadis tortured me for three months before hacking my hand off in front of everyone."
A fight against memories of Islamic oppression also played out in the streets of a newly liberated Timbuktu, where crowds of looters attacked shops once owned by the insurgents.
There are also many stories of torture in this town over the last 10 months, including public flogging.
"I wanted to die. It was better to die than to live through this," Azahara, a flogging victim, said. "My brother was shot and killed by the rebels last week for breaking Islamic rules."
With the rebels gone, France's defense minister is calling its 3-week-old military operation in Mali a success.
Meanwhile, terrorists have taken shelter across North Africa after being pushed out of havens like Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Yemen.