Al Qaeda’s newly formed entity, the Group for Support of Islam and Muslims, have perpetrated a multitude of attacks in Mali and elsewhere in West Africa this year. This represents a major security threat for the region.
The Group for Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM), al Qaeda’s new group in West Africa, claimed an ambush on French troops in central Mali near the borders with Burkina Faso. Additionally, it also claimed launching Grad rockets into a French base in northern Mali.
The Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims, al Qaeda’s newly formed entity in West Africa, claimed a series of attacks today. One claim discussed its role in the recent communal violence between Fulani herders and Bambara farmers in central Mali.
Earlier this month, four al Qaeda groups in West Africa merged to form the “Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims.” Its constituent organizations launched more than 250 attacks across the region in 2016, a significant increase in the jihadists’ operational tempo from the previous year.
On Mar. 2, a new al Qaeda joint venture in West Africa was announced. The “Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims” is led by Ansar Dine’s Iyad Ag Ghaly and is openly loyal to Ayman al Zawahiri. It brings together four groups that were already part of al Qaeda’s international network.
With at least 257 al Qaeda-linked attacks in Mali and its neighboring countries, this represents a significant uptick in the al Qaeda-led insurgency in northern Mali in recent years.
The coordinated assault blamed on jihadists has left nearly a dozen Burkinabe soldiers dead.
The video shows the aftermath of an ambush on Malian troops in central Mali last month. The jihadist group’s two battalions that operate in central and southern Mali continue to threaten the region.
Despite not previously reporting taking hostages during last month’s attack in Nampala, Ansar Dine is now claiming to have captured five Malian soldiers during the large-scale assault.
The assault is one of the largest on a Malian military base in recent years, and has left twice as many Malian soldiers dead as last year’s attack on the same base.
Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and associated groups have unleashed a string of attacks in Mali and elsewhere in West Africa this year.
The attacks on the Tuareg National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad are likely an attempt to destabilize the movement and the region after several other Tuareg separatist movements signed a peace deal with the Malian government earlier this year.
Al Qaeda and allied jihadist groups have repeatedly targeted UN forces since early 2013.
No group has yet to claim the assault, though attacking hotels frequented by foreigners is a common tactic of jihadists.
The ambush near Timbuktu is just the latest al Qaeda attack near the city. Additionally, other attacks by jihadists have occurred further south in the country.
The attack is the second in June to take place near the border with Ivory Coast and the second in two days in the lower half of Mali. These attacks come after the government and the main Tuareg rebels in the north have agreed to a peace deal.
The assault comes just days after rebel Tuareg groups signed a peace deal with the Malian government.