At least three Italians, one Polish citizen, and one American have been kidnapped in the Sahel over the last two months. At least five other Westerners remain in captivity in the region – all of which are held by jihadist groups.
As violence continues to spread across the Sahel, particularly in Burkina Faso, the violence is now seeping into the states of Ivory Coast, Togo, and Benin.
Coming roughly a month after France reported it had killed Abu Walid al Sahrawi, the Islamic State’s leader in the Sahel, the Islamic State itself has finally subtly confirmed the reports. The jihadist group has not publicly named a successor.
Northern Ivory Coast has seen a substantial increase in suspected jihadist attacks since March of this year. Much of the violence is emanating from southwestern Burkina Faso, where al Qaeda’s Katibat Macina is expanding.
The photo offers a rare look into jihadist governance in the Sahel, in which jihadists loyal to both al Qaeda and the Islamic State wield both direct and indirect control over many rural areas.
In an interview with the Islamic State’s Al-Naba newsletter, Abu Walid al-Sahrawi, the leader of the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara, attempts to paint al Qaeda’s efforts in the region as rife with internal squabbles and disunity.
In this week’s edition of the Islamic State’s weekly Al-Naba newsletter, the jihadist group claims a series of wide-ranging operations across the Sahel. This includes last month’s massacre of French aid workers in Niger, as well as a spate of battles with al Qaeda’s men.
While JNIM has not claimed the assault, its Katibat Macina is widely suspected of perpetrating the attack. This comes after sustained operations against it in the area last month.