Islamic State in the Greater Sahara claims second attack in Burkina Faso

The Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS), a fledgling organization in the Sahel which holds allegiance to Abu Bakr al Baghdadi of the Islamic State, has claimed its second attack in Burkina Faso. A Mauritanian news outlet, Al Akhbar, has reported both of the terrorist group’s claims of responsibility.

Al Akhbar reports:

The Islamic State organization claimed responsibility [for the] Wednesday, October 12 [attack] against a position of the Burkinabe army in the town of Intangom located in the extreme north of Burkina Faso, near the border with Mali.

Three Burkinabe soldiers were killed in the assault, while reinforcements sent to the post were also reportedly attacked. It was initially reported that the Burkinabe military killed some of the attackers as well, though this was later debunked by local media.

However, it is not entirely clear how Al Akhbar obtained information of this latest claim. In ISGS’ first claim, the statement from ISGS was sent directly to the outlet. In this new claim, Al Akhbar makes no mention of that. Official Islamic State media has also not yet released any claim. Al Akhbar routinely publishes statements sent from Sahara-based jihadists, but this report could not be independently verified by The Long War Journal.

ISGS claimed its first-ever attack in September, which also occurred in Burkina Faso, nearby the one earlier this week. That assault, which occurred on a Burkinabe gendarmerie post in Markoye, left a border agent and a civilian dead. (See LWJ report, Islamic State’s Sahara branch claims first attack in Burkina Faso.)

The Islamic State branch in the Sahara is led by Abu Walid al Sahrawi. Sahrawi was originally the spokesman and a senior leader for the al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) splinter group, the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO). Most of MUJAO eventually merged with the forces of Mokhtar Belmokhtar to form Al Murabitoon and pledged allegiance to al Qaeda leader, Ayman al Zawahiri. After several leaders of Murabitoon were killed, Sahrawi eventually took the helms and defected with a faction of the group to the Islamic State. Most of Murabitoon, however, did not and eventually re-merged into AQIM.

ISGS is also thought to be holding a Romanian national, which was taken from Tambao, Burkina Faso last year. The hostage was taken by Sahrawi’s faction of Murabitoon before the split.

Caleb Weiss is an editor of FDD's Long War Journal and a senior analyst at the Bridgeway Foundation, where he focuses on the spread of the Islamic State in Central Africa.

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