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.
Al Qaeda groups operating in Mali continue to be a threat to both local and regional security.
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 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.