Category Archives: Kidal

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

By Rida Lyammouri

February 17th, 2017

Analysis and Comments

  • Sahel MeMo recorded at least 106 casualties and 138 injuries, making January 2017 one of the deadliest month in Mali’s history. AQIM Gao attack on 18 JAN 17 is the deadliest by a jihadist group in Mali and the region.
  • Gao attack on Mécanisme Opérationnel de Coordination (MOC in French) the victims were mostly fighters from armed groups.
  • Besides victims of Gao attack most of casualties were recorded among Malian forces, Sahel MeMo recorded at least 15 killed and 14 wounded in January 2017.
  • Sahel MeMo recorded 1 MINUSMA peacekeeper killed and at least 2 injured in January 2017.
  • Sahel MeMo recorded at least 3 assassination attempts against elected officials in central Mali in January 2017.
  • AQIM released video of Beatrice Stockly kidnapped in Timbuktu one year ago, on 07 January 2016.
  • January 2017 witnessed at least 3 attacks on Non-government organizations (NGOs) complicating further any efforts to assist disadvantaged and unprotected population in remote areas, notably northern and central regions.
  • Sahel MeMo recorded at least 18 violent incidents related to violent extremist organizations (VEOs).
  • Sahel MeMo recorded at least 10 armed robberies in northern and central Mali
  • January 2017 witnessed decline in the number of attacks claimed by Ansar al-Din through its media outlet, al-Rimah.
  • Following the Gao attack number of suspects were arrested, including well-known locals in Gao Region. This indicates further possible murky ties between these individuals and militant groups despite differences in ideology.

DOWNLOAD FULL PDF REPORT FROM SAHEL MEMO PAGE

Mali: November 2016 Violence Related to AQIM, Ansar al-Din, MUJWA, and Islamic State Branch in the Sahel

By Rida Lyammouri

January 31, 2017

Full PDF report could be found here: http://www.sahelmemo.com/2017/01/31/mali-november-2016-violence-related-to-aqim-ansar-al-din-mujwa-and-islamic-state-branch-in-the-sahel/

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Mali: October 2016 Violence Related to AQIM, Ansar al-Din, MUJWA, Islamic State Branch in the Sahel and Other Security Incidents

By Rida Lyammouri

November 16th, 2016

  • There were at least 16 casualties and 21 injuries in violent attacks related to VEOs in Mali in October 2016.
  • Out of 18 attacks MINUSMA forces were targeted 5 times, Malian Army 8 times, Barkhane forces 3 times, 1 civilian vehicle [ambulance at Malian Army checkpoint], and 1 attack rockets were fired on the city of Gao.
  • At least 18 attacks related to VEOs operating in Mali in October 2016. Ansar al-Din officially claimed 7 out of the 18 attacks through its media arm al-Rimah, AQIM claimed 1 attack, and 10 attacks were unclaimed.
  • Ansar al-Din remains the main threat to French, Malian, and MINUSMA forces. Ansar al-Din threat is high and most likely to continue in Kidal Region and in Mopti Region through Macina brigade.
    • At least 11 Malian security forces members killed and at least 8 injured.
    • 2 MINUSMA peacekeepers killed and at least 7 injured.
    • 6 French soldiers injured and 3 civilians killed.
  • Number of attacks per region:
    • Kidal Region: 5
    • Timbuktu Region: 6
    • Gao Region: 4
    • Central Mali: 3
  • October 2016 witnessed worrying development, MUJWA splinter that pledged allegiance to so-called Islamic State in May 2015 claimed two attacks through Mauritania’s news outlet al-Akhbar.info. Attacks claimed took place in Niger and Burkina Faso.
  • Niger and Burkina Faso borders area with Mali witnessed at least 4 violent attacks related to VEOs.

FULL PDF REPORT: October Monthly Tracker 2016 for Mali

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Mali: July 2016 Violence Related to AQIM, Ansar al-Din, MUJWA, and Other Security Incidents

By Rida Lyammouri

August 1st, 2016

Violent extremist organizations (VEOs) operating in Mali remained active and operational in Mali throughout the month of July, especially Ansar al-Din. Attacks conducted in Mali were mainly carried by Ansar al-Din, targeting mostly the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), and Malian forces. This trend will most likely continue in coming weeks and months in efforts to undermine national and international efforts to stabilize the country. Malian forces suffered one of the deadliest attacks since 2012 when a joint operation by more than one group targeted Malian Army base at Nampala near Mauritanian borders. The incident further demonstrated both the ability of groups to conduct deadly attacks and to demonstrate that Malian Army remains unable to to prevent such attacks. The use of improvised explosive device (IED) remains the main tactic to target Malian and foreign forces, while targeting MINUSMA logistical convoys is in increase with the aim to disrupt peacekeeping operations.

Month of July was also bad in regards the implementation of the peace process. In July 12th, demonstrations by local population opposed to the process in Gao turned violent when Malian forces fired at protestors killing 3 and injuring more than 30. In July 21st fighting erupted between in Kidal between GATIA and CMA, two key actors in the Algiers peace accord. Further violent clashes also took place in July 31st indicating that violence and use of arms remain the strong negotiations language.

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Images of Islamist militants in northern Mali released by al-Mourabitun of AQIM arm media al-Ribat.

Key July Security Events and Trends in Mali:

  • AQIM branch Grand Sahara announced the death of one of its senior commanders, Abu Bakr al-Shenkiti (Mohamed al-Radhi). This is a major loss to the group because of Abu Bakr’s extensive experience fighting in Mali since joining AQIM in 2009.
  • Malian forces arrested on July 26th Ansar al-Din Macina brigade leader identified as Mahmoud Barry (aka Cheick Yahya). Cheick Yahya reported to have played key role in the Nampala attack, and was arrested between Nampala and Dogofri. He made its first public appearance in a first video released by the same brigade May 18th.
  • Malian forces arrested on July 19th key leader of Ansar al-Din southern brigade, Boubacar Wardogo. Wardogo is from Burkina Faso and was leading Ansar al-Din branch operating along Burkina Faso and Mali borders. His brigade was responsible for number of attacks conducted on both sides of the borders. This arrest was a result of investigations that followed the arrest of Yacouba Touré, another key Ansar al-Din figure in the south who was arrested in May.
  • AQIM claimed 0n July 21st responsibility of kidnapping then assassinating High Council for the Unity of Azawad (HCUA) senior commander at Ber. Commander was identified as Alhassane Ag Intoua, and was taken from Ber on June 20th. Also, AQIM sent decapitated body of MNLA member, Efad Ag Arikak taken at Ber on June 6th.
  • Ansar al-Din media arm al-Rimah released an infographic with statistics of the Nampala attack claiming to have seized 5 (12.7mm) Doushka and 5 PK machine guns, more than 40 AKs, 5 vehicles, and important amount of ammunition.
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Ansar al-Din inforgraphic with Nampala attacks statistics.

Chronology of  AQIM, Ansar al-Din, and VEO Related Incidents

01 July 2016: Unknown armed militants attacked Malian gendarmerie post in Ménaka. 2 killed and 1 injured.

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