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.
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.
Almost 300 people have been killed in a series of mass killings in Niger and on a military position inside Mali. The Islamic State has officially claimed just one of the attacks, but it is believed to have carried out all of the massacres.
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has sent a message of support to its fellow al Qaeda branch for recently killing five French soldiers.
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.
Two recently released booklets by the al Qaeda group are likely meant to assuage tensions both within and outside its organization.
Over the last month, the jihadist group has killed at least 174 Nigerien soldiers in three separate attacks.
The large video details several major Islamic State operations inside the Sahel over the last few years.