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.