As of Sept. 2023, the future of Mali looks bleaker than ever. If you’re a jihadist, however, then the future is very bright.
Abu Yasir al-Jaza’iri, an Algerian ideologue in al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, offers the group’s harshest rebuke of the Islamic State to date.
Jeff Woodke, who spent over six years captive in the Sahel, and Olivier Dubois, who spent almost two years as a hostage, were finally freed from the clutches of al-Qaeda’s men in the Sahel. The United States has denied paying a ransom.
Several communities in Mali’s northern Menaka Region have turned to al Qaeda’s men in the face of extreme pressure and violence from the Islamic State’s local wing.
Over the last two weeks, al Qaeda’s West African branch has made a more concerted effort to advance closer to the Malian capital of Bamako.
German national Jorg Lange was finally freed after being held captive by Islamic State militants in the Sahel since 2018.
This is the third such JNIM claim of responsibility for an attack inside northern Togo.
Almost 30 people have been killed in a series of jihadist attacks – many of which happened near simultaneously – across northern Togo over the last few days.
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.
While Togo suffered its first ever jihadist attack in Nov. 2021, yesterday’s large assault represents the first loss of life from such violence in the small West African state. At least 8 Togolese troops were killed and 13 others wounded in an attack on a base and subsequent IED blast.
France says its forces killed Yahia Djouadi, a senior veteran of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, inside northern Mali. The raid comes after France and its European allies are set to withdraw from Mali.
In a recent statement released online, Jamaat Ansar al Muslimeen, better known as Ansaru, confirmed it maintains its allegiance to al Qaeda after reportedly re-pledging allegiance to al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in 2020.
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.
Local Malian sources report that the emir of Katibat Gourma, a sub-unit of Al Qaeda’s Group for Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM), was killed in a French operation in northern Mali yesterday. France has confirmed it targeted Katibat Gourma, but the death of its emir is not yet confirmed.
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.
Baye Ag Bakabo is linked to several of AQIM’s kidnappings in Mali, including the operation that left two RFI journalists dead in 2013.
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has sent a message of support to its fellow al Qaeda branch for recently killing five French soldiers.
France has claimed it killed Bah Ag Moussa, an important JNIM commander, in a recent military raid in northern Mali. JNIM has not yet commented on the news.
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 exchange for the release of dozens of imprisoned members from Mali’s prisons, Al Qaeda’s Group for Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) has freed four hostages, three of them foreign. JNIM has since celebrated the prisoner swap, including a personal appearance by its overall emir, Iyad Ag Ghaly, in northern Mali.
JNIM claims its first suicide bombing of the year on French troops in the Timbuktu region of northern Mali.
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.
The two jihadist groups continue their rampage in Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso.
The attack in Mali’s northern Gao region is one of the deadliest in recent months.
Two recently released booklets by the al Qaeda group are likely meant to assuage tensions both within and outside its organization.
It is unclear if the unit represents a splinter of al Qaeda’s JNIM, though the group now represents an Islamic State-loyal faction close to the borders with Mauritania.
The al Qaeda group has claimed a series of attacks across the Sahel in recent weeks.
The large video details several major Islamic State operations inside the Sahel over the last few years.
In addition to the prison break, JNIM also claimed two other recent attacks in Mali and Burkina Faso.
JNIM took credit for last month’s suicide assault in Gao, Mali. According to the French, however, the attack was largely a failure.