Burkina Faso’s wanted list gives more information into the inner-workings and operations of Ansaroul Islam, a relatively under-researched and little understood al Qaeda-linked jihadist group.
The death of Hasan al Ansari and five other senior leaders of JNIM was used as justification for JNIM’s terrorist attacks in Burkina Faso on Friday.
The State Department has designated Ansaroul Islam, a Burkinabe jihadist group affiliated with al Qaeda’s network in Mali, as a terrorist organization. FDD’s Long War Journal has tracked the rise of the group since its founding in late 2016.
At least 276 attacks in Mali and its neighboring countries were linked al Qaeda in 2017. This includes a significant shift of violence to central Mali, as well as northern Burkina Faso.
The raid, which occurred last year, was a joint operation that included several al Qaeda groups in Mali. The video is likely meant to show that the raid was a precursor to the merger that would from the Group for Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM).
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.
No one has claimed the assault, but Ansar Dine was behind a jailbreak last month.
The two attacks, including a suicide bombing, targeted foreign bases at airports in northern Mali. Al Qaeda has launched more than 200 attacks in Mali and the neighboring countries in the past year.
The total number of al Qaeda-linked attacks in Mali in 2016 now sits at 203.
On Oct. 9, a statement attributed to Mokhtar Belmokhtar was circulated online. The message eulogizes Sheikh Ag Aoussa, a prominent Tuareg leader who was reportedly killed in an explosion after attending a meeting at a UN camp in Mali. The statement’s author, presumably Belmokhtar, blames France for Aoussa’s death and calls on tribes to turn against the French.
The Tuareg al Qaeda front claimed a coordinated assault on UN troops yesterday in northern Mali, which included two separate incidents of shelling and IED attacks.
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.
Jihadists have reportedly gained control over the town of Boni after the military retreated. Additionally, today’s spate of attacks in Mali, mainly in the central regions of Mopti and Segou, marks one of the most active days for jihadist groups in Mali
The Tuareg jihadist group has recently claimed a spate of attacks, mainly against French forces, across Mali.
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 first video promises to be the first of many of Ansar Dine’s southern branch. Ansar Dine’s Katibat Macina, which is more commonly known as the Macina Liberation Front, is integrated within al Qaeda’s larger strategy for Mali and West Africa.
Jihadists in Mali continue to prove their potency in the north by launching a spate of attacks in recent days. One such assault left a French special forces soldier dead and three others wounded.
Al Qaeda groups operating in Mali continue to be a threat to both local and regional security.
The UN’s mission in Mali continues to be one of the most dangerous peacekeeping operations in the world.
The attack last month comes as tensions between Ansar Dine, a Tuareg al Qaeda group, and several Tuareg separatist groups in northern Mali have escalated.
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.
The attackers were heard yelling “Allahu Akbar” and separated Muslims from non-Muslims. The hostage crisis is the second to occur in Mali this year, but the first to occur in its capital. Jihadists have increasingly been able to penetrate southern Mali after a French-led counterterrorism mission in the north.
The reclusive leader of Ansar Dine, an al Qaeda group that operates in Mali, has resurfaced again to threaten the French and dismiss the latest peace deal with the Tuaregs in Mali.
No group has yet to claim the assault, though attacking hotels frequented by foreigners is a common tactic of jihadists.