Category Archives: Ansar al-Din

Mali – Sahel: July 2017 violent incidents related to JNIM [AQIM, Ansar al-Din, Al-Murabitoun, and MLF coalition], and other security incidents

By Rida Lyammouri,

September 7th, 2017

MALI – SAHEL: JULY 2017 Monthly Tracker – PDF 

July 2017 by the numbers:

  • JNIM claimed 7 attacks against French, MINUSMA, and Malian forces in July 2017.
  • Casualties summary in July 2017: At least 1 MINUSMA peacekeepers (or contractor) killed and 6 injured; 7 French soldiers injured; 11 Malian soldiers killed and 4 injured; 6 members of armed groups killed; 2 civilians killed and 2 injured in attacks claimed or attributed to JNIM or other VEOs operating in Mali.
  • July 2017 recorded multiple clashes between CMA and Platform forces, mostly in Kidal Region further complicating implementation of peace accord signed over two years ago.
  • Armed robberies against civilians transportation and NGO vehicles in central and northern regions continues to be major security concern.
  • French forces made several arrests of suspects collaborating with jihadist groups in Timbuktu Region.
  • In July 2017 JNIM claimed its first major attacks on Burkinabe and Nigerien forces in Burkina Faso and Niger respectively. Since its creation in March 2017, JNIM almost exclusively operated and only claimed attacks in Mali. During these attacks at least 5 Nigerien and 8 Burkinabe soldiers killed while 3 Nigerien injured.
  • After Adnan Abu Walid al-Sahraoui released a letter threatening MSA and GATIA groups in June, number of attacks recorded in Ménaka Region where the group that pledged allegiance to so-called Islamic State operates.
  • Kisal NGO reported acts of violence by GATIA against Fulani herders following increased attacks by unidentified gunmen. GATIA accuses Fulani herders of collaboration with jihadist groups in Ménaka Region.
  • In Burkina Faso at least 10 people killed in Sahel Region as a result of target assassinations by suspected jihadists.

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Mali – Sahel: June 2017 Violent Incidents Related to Al-Qaeda Affiliate JNIM, Ansaroul Islam, and Other Security Incidents

By Rida Lyammouri

August 2nd, 2017

FULL PDF REPORT COULD BE FOUND HERE

  • JNIM claimed 8 attacks against French, MINUSMA, and Malian forces in June 2017.
  • In June 4 MINUSMA peacekeepers killed and 9 injured, 4 French soldiers injured, 7 Malian soldiers killed and 12 wounded, 2 civilians executed and 2 injured.
  • Sahel MeMo noted number of inter-community violence. Deadly clashes were recorded between Fulani herders and Dogon farmers over land management. Clashes started as early as 25 May and went on and off through June, and took place on the borders between Mali and Burkina Faso, and included members from both countries. Casualties were estimated by Kisal NGO to be around 100.
  • Sahel MeMo recorded armed robberies against civilians and NGOs in central and northern regions.
  • French forces conducted from May 28 to June 1st joint operation at Serma forest, 200km SW of Gao with Malian and Burkinabe forces. Barkhane said successfully dismantled networks and camps used by JNIM affiliates in the area, neutralized around 20 militants, and seized arms and ammunition.
  • Sahelien.com reported that since early June 2017 assassinations and acts of exaction of civilians have been recorded in Kidal Region between Imghad Tuareg and Idnan Tuareg.
  • Adnan Abu Walid al-Sahraoui released a letter threatening MSA and GATIA groups.
  • In a short Facebook post, Ansaroul Islam announced change in leadership of the group. New leader identified as Jaafar Dicko supposedly to replace Maalam Ibrahim Dicko. Until now there is no confirmation if Ibrahim Dicko is dead.
  • Swedish hostage, Johan Gustafsson released on 27 June after being held by AQIM since November 25, 2011.

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Mali: Summary of Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimin (JNIM) 01 July 2017 Video

By Rida Lyammouri,

02 July 2017

Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimin (JNIM) released new video of six remaining hostages. Hostages detained include a French, Australian, South African, Colombian, Swiss, and Romanian. Video was released on 01 July 2017 through its media outlet az-Zallaqa but produced by al-Ezza production, first if I am not mistaken, and maybe JNIM’s new media outlet/platform! This came a day before French president, Emmanuel Macron, second visit to Mali within a month. Also, days before the release of Swedish hostage Johan Gustafsson who was kidnapped (with 5 others) by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in November 25, 2011 at Hotel al-Afia in Timbuktu.

Six hostages appeared in the video. South African Stephen McGow showed first in the is the only hostage remaining from Timbuktu 2011 kidnapping. Second, Australian Eliot Kenneth, kidnapped in Burkina Faso January 2016. His wife was also taken but then released weeks later. Romanian Lulian Ghergut, taken also in Burkina Faso April 2015. Worth noting that Adnan Abu Walid al-Sahraoui, head of Islamic State branch in the Sahara claimed to have Lulian Ghergut when the group pledged allegiance to Islamic State, and split with al-Murabitun of Mokhtar Belmokhtar.

Before showing other hostages the video denounced Christian missionaries operating in Mali. This to justify the reasons of the kidnappings of three humanitarian workers. The first hostage accused of proselytization is the Swiss Béatrice Stockly, who was taken for the second time from Timbuktu in January 2016. Second hostage is the Colombian Gloria Cecilia Narvaez, also accused of proselytizing and described as “Franciscaine.” Sixth and last showed hostage is Sophie Pétronin, humanitarian and last to be taken, kidnapped in Gao December 2016. Sophie Pétronin was accused also of spreading western ideology while showing Emannuel Macron speech promising during the elections to protect the French people. Pétronin also appeared asking for French president’s help for her release, and her need for a surgery due to existing tumor in her left breast. This indicates that the video was made during the last two months, May and June 2017.

Representative of the jihadist group with face covered appeared and noted that serious negotiations has yet to take place. He also made reference to previous hostage releases and to say that this will depend on the political willingness of their respective governments.

Important to note JNIM’s video did not mention Jeff Woodke, an American who was abducted in Abalak, Niger in Oct 2016. An indication that he might be held by different group, and also tells us something about JNIM’s areas of operations.

Mali – Sahel: May 2017 Violent Incidents Related to JNIM [AQIM, Ansar al-Din], and Other Security Incidents

June 15th, 2017

By Rida Lyammouri

  • Sahel MeMo recorded at least 14 violent incidents with violent extremist organizations (VEOs) involvement. However only 7 officially claimed by Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen (JNIM) through its media arm az-Zallaqa.
  • Sahel MeMo recorded at least 23 casualties and 43 injuries among Malian Army, MINUSMA, and MNLA as a result of the 14 violent incidents by VEOs. Out of the 14 incidents, both MINUSMA and Malian forces were victims of 4 attacks each [1 both simultaneously].
  • Among casualties recorded in May 2017, 3 MINUSMA peacekeepers killed and 14 injured. 19 Malian soldiers killed and 28 injured. 1 MNLA member assassinated.
  • Sahel MeMo recorded at least 24 armed robberies incidents in May 2017. Non-government organizations (NGOs) were targeted by armed bandits at least 5 times, including ICRC and MSF. Armed robberies recorded all took place in northern and central Mali and most of the victims were civilians.
  • Sahel MeMo recorded clashes between armed groups and militias signatories of the peace accord.
  • 3 violent incidents recorded by Sahel MeMo in Niger in Tillabéri Region while 4 others took place in Burkina Faso. No group claimed responsibility of these attacks. Members of Ansaroul Islam in Burkina Faso and Adnan Abu Walid al-Sahraoui men are the main suspects.
  • The month of May 2017 also witnessed at least two tragedies regarding migrants traveling to Libya through Niger. At least 52 migrants were found dead in the Nigerien desert.

FULL PDF REPORT – MAY 2017 INCIDENT TRACKER

 

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Mali – Sahel: April 2017 Violent Incidents Related to AQIM, Ansar al-Din, JNIM, and Other Security Incidents

May 3rd, 2017

By Rida Lyammouri

Mali – Sahel: April 2017 Security Incidents – PDF FULL REPORT

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  • At the closure of conférence d’entente nationale people suggested negotiating with Ag Ghali and Mohamed Koufa. Both remain influential in northern and central Mali where jihadist groups continue to conduct frequent attacks on Malian, French, and MINUSMA forces. Though the idea of negotiations with both leaders made a significant noise, this remains almost an impossible idea to be accepted by any Malian and certainly little too late for talks option.
  • 600 schools closed in the Sahel Region in Burkina Faso due to increased threats and insecurity. After the French intervention in Mali January 2013 this region provided ideal fallback for members of jihadist groups that fled Mali. Little presence of security forces and relying on recruited local leaders facilitated the expansion of AQIM and allies.
  • In the past month or so, Barkhane, Malian, and Burkina Faso forces conducted operations on the borders with Mali. This led to the destruction of what appeared to be an important logistical base to newly formed group, Ansaroul Islam, on 29-30 April 2017. At least 20 militants killed and important arms and explosives destroyed.
  • In the absence of permanent presence of legitimate forces to protect local population in remote areas, we continue to see the emergence of small armed groups. For instance, Fulani armed group emerged near Ansongo claiming to be non-jihadist and non-separatist, and to recognize Malian State.
  • Reportedly, Ansaroul Islam operating in Burkina Faso and led by Ibrahim Dicko plans to pledge allegiance to so-called Islamic State. While existing ties between members of Ansaroul Islam and Adnane Abu Walid al-Sahraoui indicate as this to be a possibility, it’s unlikely to have a major impact at the operational level.
  • CJA announced on 20 APR 17 to abandon checkpoint controlled west of Timbuktu to the Malian Army. CJA controlled the checkpoint since early March while protesting against the terms of interim authorities implementation in Timbuktu and Taoudeni Regions.
  • JNIM distributed leaflets at Zouera, Timbuktu Region telling CJA are not the target but they should not provide any type support to French, MINUSMA, and Malian forces.
  • In response to increased armed robberies around Bourem and Gao Region in general, local authorities in Bourem on 30 April announced banning circulation of motorcycles at the Bourem Circle until 21 May. Movement of people is likely to be reduced and limited, and thus affect the livelihood of many families and further deteriorate humanitarian conditions in the area.

Mali – Sahel: March 2017 Violent Incidents Related to AQIM, Ansar al-Din, JNIM, and Other Security Incidents

By Rida Lyammouri

April 24th, 2017

Sahel MeMo March 2017 Tracker – PDF

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Security situation in Mali and Sahel in general was overshadowed by the creation of new jihadist coalition on 02 March 2017. The new group is called “Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen, translated to “Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims,” and now abbreviated as JNIM. JNIM was formed by joining forces between AQIM Sahara Branch, Ansar al-Din, al-Murabitoun, and Ansar al-Din Macina brigade.

In addition to surviving the ongoing aggressive counterterrorism operations in Mali, groups making the core of new alliance already been enjoying operational success in different parts of the country and all operate in different regions. Ansar al-Din operates mainly in Kidal Region where carries regular attacks against French and MINUSMA forces. Sahara branch of AQIM remains present in Timbuktu Region where its focus not only MINUSMA, French, and Malian forces, but also acts of intimidation against locals and members of armed groups collaborating with foreign and Malian security forces. Macina brigade operates almost exclusively in Mopti and Segou Regions where since January 2015 number of its attacks increased significantly and focused largely on Malian forces small units based in the area. Its attacks also included attacks on MINUSMA logistical convoys. Lastly, al-Murabitoun carried limited number of attacks mainly in Gao Region.

In a short-term, despite being labeled as Sahel jihadist coalition, JNIM will mostly, if not only, impact the security situation in Mali. This is more about Mali than whole Sahel Region, especially with the clear attempt by Al-Qaeda to maximize its access to local communities. Relying on local groups is nothing new and AQIM’s localization approach was its signature since started penetrating northern Mali in early 2000s and continued to recent years with the creation of Ansar al-Din and Macina brigade.

Leaders of the new coalition, led by Iyad Ag Ghali, know more than anyone else the importance of sending that message of unity. This comes at a critical time as different parties involved in the peace process continue to struggle to achieve just that [unity]. Creation of JNIM is also more than competition, if there is any, with so-called Islamic State. It’s been almost two years since Adnan Abu Walid al-Sahraoui pledged allegiance to ISIS and never really imposed a similar threat, at least for now, as Al-Qaeda affiliates in Mali and neighboring countries. Al-Sahraoui’s men might have been credited deadly attack in Niger but the group itself never released official statement to claim such important attack for its propaganda.

Going forward violent extremist groups (VEOs) in Mali will continue to seek opportunities to carry spectacular attacks to cause high number of casualties. These attacks will target MINUSMA, French, Malian, and armed groups by relying on suicide missions conducted by small number of militants.

 

 

Mali: February 2017 Violence Related to AQIM, Ansar al-Din, MUJWA, and Other Security Incidents

By Rida Lyammouri,

March 12th, 2017

Analysis and Comments

  • Sahel MeMo recorded in February 2017 at least 20 incidents related [or at least suspected to be] to violent extremist organizations operating in Mali. This includes failed attempts by VEOs, such as when improvised explosive devices (IEDs) been discovered and dismantled.
  • Sahel MeMo recorded 11 casualties and 18 wounded among Malian security forces while 8 peacekeepers of MINUSMA injured.
  • In February 2017 only 2 attacks were officially claimed by Ansar al-Din and AQIM.
  • Niger witnessed at least one deadly attack on its forces in Tillabéry Region on the borders with Mali. At least 15 soldiers killed and 18 injured. This forced Nigerien government to declare state of emergency in most of Tahoua and Tillabéry Regions. Barkhane also established a remote post in Tillebéry Region.
  • Security situation in Burkina Faso on the borders with Mali has degraded. Militant group identified as Ansarul Islam emerged in the area while little is known thus far about the group and its capabilities. However local officials and school teachers have been threatened by unidentified individuals at Soum near borders with Mali.
  • Colombian nun kidnapped by unknown gunmen at Karangasso, Sikasso Region. Hostage identified as Gloria Argoti and as of March 7th no group claimed responsibility. This brings total of 8 hostages being taken and held by jihadist groups or other unknown groups in Mali and neighboring countries in the Sahel.
  • Reportedly, members from Fulani and Bambara communities engaged in violent clashes in Ké-Macina, Mopti Region. At least 20 people killed.
  • Armed banditry continues to be threat to civilians and peacekeeping operations in central and northern Mali.

FEBRUARY 2017 INCIDENTS: FULL PDF REPORT

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