Category Archives: Violent Extremist Organizations (VEOs) in Mali

Burkina Faso: June – October 2018 Chronology of Violent Incidents Related to Al-Qaeda affiliates Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen (JNIM) and Ansaroul Islam, and Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS)

By Rida Lyammouri

November 1st, 2018

FULL PDF REPORT: JUNE – OCTOBER 2018 VIOLENT INCIDENTS IN BURKINA FASO

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Key takeaways:

  • Militants activity in Burkina Faso have been on the rise for the past two years. Since June 2018 Sahel MeMo observed similar trend with an expansion from Northern parts bordering Mali and Niger, to the Est Region on the borders with Benin, Niger, and Togo. Militant groups have been trying to establish a base there since early 2016, explaining groups’ ability to carry complex deadly attacks, including the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
  • Violence in the eastern part of Burkina Faso by militant groups most likely to continue. In addition to targeting security forces and intimidation acts against civil servants, militants will look to continue to disrupt gold mining in the area. In fact, security forces in charge of protecting gold mines or escorting staff have been subject to attacks by militants at least in August 2018. If this to continue, livelihoods of local communities benefiting from gold mining could be at risk if security situation continues to deteriorate in the region.
  • These attacks are mostly attributed rather than claimed by militant groups known to operate in Burkina Faso. These militant groups include Ansaroul Islam, Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimeen (JNIM), and Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS). Out of the three only JNIM have been consistent releasing official claims of attacks. Thus analysts, observers, journalists, and Burkinabe authorities are contributing most of violent incidents based on the area where occurred and means used. Important to note that between June and October 2018 no incidents officially claimed by JNIM. This could be explained by difficulty of movement during rainy season (June – October) in the region.
  • October 3rd witnessed the first reported French airstrikes against militants after request of support from Burkinabe authorities. This was following a deadly attack against Inata gold mine gendarmerie post.

 

 

 

 

Mali: Quick notes about presidential elections from the first day.

By Rida Lyammouri

July 30th, 2018

State run TV station announced some satisfaction about conditions of the elections throughout most of the country. However also pointed out to different types of incidents that either disrupted the event or prevented people from voting at all. For instance, several offices were ransacked by unknown gunmen in Central Region and people were not able to vote. Absence of electoral agents prevented voting in 10 voting centers in Ségou and Timbuktu Regions. 61 offices never opened due to insecurity in Mopti and Timbuktu Regions. According to Malian authorities no vote took place in at least 644 elections offices due to different acts of violence. Furthermore announced that voting was disrupted in at least 3988 other offices. According to Morgane Le Cam, journalist who has been covering the elections, tweeted that 81 percent of closed voting offices due to insecurity were located in Mopti Region, 13.4 percent on Timbuktu Region, and 5.4 percent in Ségou Region. Refugees in Mauritania, Burkina Faso, and Niger were reported to have been able to vote according to impressive live coverage by sahelien.com.

This was expected, at least for observers following the Malian and regional conflicts very closely. Security situation in Mopti Region have deteriorated not only due to militant groups like JNIM (Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimeen), but also to tensions between local communities. No major incidents related to militant groups took place the day of elections with the exception of intimidation acts and rocket attack in Aguelhoc, Kidal Region. Alleged members of militant group JNIM threatened and warned local population from voting in different location in Mopti Region. JNIM also claimed responsibility of launching rockets on MINUSMA base in Aguelhoc during elections day. In the statement (see the claim #83) JNIM stated that this is an indication that the fight will continue against the French and its collaborators until Shari’a wins, and these elections don’t mean anything.

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JNIM statement claiming rockets attack on MINUSMA camp in Aguelhoc, Kidal Region on July 29th, 2018. 

At this stage it’s too early to predict who is going to win, however; there is strong possibility of second round. Soumaila Cissé is the strongest challenger to current president Ibrahim Boubakar Keita. Again, this is just a prediction based on early counts coming in, remains to be seen. Overall, today’s elections occurred in less violent conditions compared to 2016 municipal elections when several offices were burned and voting boxes destroyed. Also, no major incidents recorded in Ménaka and Kidal Regions where State has limited to no presence.

These are crucial moments for Mali and the Malian people, whatever the outcome of these elections is, the focus should be on what’s ahead. Any elections related violence will further delegitimize state credibility not only in the north and center of the country but also in the south. The government will also lose credibility among the opposition and armed groups signatories of the peace accord. As a result causing further instability throughout the country and delay in implementing the peace process. Something militant groups, like JNIM will exploit further to its narrative highlighted by Iyad Ag Ghali, that these elections are useless and only used to serve the usual beneficiaries and not the Malian people. This is an opportunity for Malian political elites to show willingness and leadership to move the country forward and delegitimize JNIM and other spoilers.

 

Mali – Iyad Ag Ghali: Summary of video recording released by JNIM leader two days before presidential elections

By Rida Lyammouri

July 28th, 2018

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Here is a translation, not full, of the key points highlighted by Iyad Ag Ghali, JNIM leader, in his 9mn51s video released on Friday, July 27th.

Key points:

  • Elections are usual business and only to serve usual suspects, nothing new.
  • France failed to defeat al-Mujahidin and allowed Malian Army to commit crimes and atrocities against innocent people.
  • Those Arab and Muslim nations supporting Sahel G5 are traitors.
  • Calling for different expertise and types of support from their supporters.

Video transcript: 

“I am certain many observers are expecting a huge speech to shed light and describe our position (JNIM) in regards the upcoming presidential elections and political situation in Mali. However, let me bring some disappointments to these anticipations about the most important event (elections) to those benefiting from it, our position was already addressed by our Cadi (Judge) recently. I will only say that these elections are just a distraction and waste of time full of unrealistic promises as we are accustomed to for decades. Promises that don’t fall on the same line with Shari’a.”

“However I would like to ask the great people of this country and warn them, and advise them, that faith is the right path. Past and current colonizer, France, did not achieve its motivating objective to invade our country. Repeated operations did not bring the success planned, which is defeating al-Mujahidin, however [and thank to God] number of Mujahidin have doubled, gained more support, and even expanded. This failure of the French have pushed them to unleash the criminal Malian Army to commit atrocities and abuses, for instance those committed in ke-Macina and Boulkessi, in Ségou and Mopti Regions respectively, and in other places. Innocent men, women, and children were victims of these atrocities, and these crimes in God’s willing will not go unpunished. The situation did not stop here and even further ignited tensions and violence between different nations, clans, and tribes, and some even fall into the trap of dark-age wars. I am calling my people of Mali and Azawad to be cautious of falling in enemy’s trap and to be disrupted from fighting against the crusaders and their collaborators whom are responsible for Muslim’s blood. Killing fellow Muslims purposely will send them straight to hell.”

“I am also seizing this opportunity to renew my call to different militias and groups abandoned their religion to return to their senses. They abandoned their people and sold themselves cheap and aligned with crusaders in the fight against al-Mujahidin. We ask them to return to the right path and God will pardon them. About our message to the Muslim nation, is to remind them of their responsibility toward al-Mujahidin in Mali. The war against Islam is a global war and the international community still trying to destroy the Islamic project here by forming Sahel G5. Several Arab and Muslim traitor nations engaged in providing financial and other supports to Sahel G5. Our beloved Muslim nation, our Mujahidin still count on your support at different levels and expertise and knowledge. I am reaching out to my brothers’-and-sons’ al-Mujahidin and their supporters to remain strong in their path toward establishing our Islamic pride. And to our prisoners in the hands of our enemies I advise you to stay strong and spend your time on what’s beneficial to you, and pray for your brothers and your Islamic nation. We will do anything and won’t stop trying until we set you free.”

“Before I forget I would like to send in the name of JNIM our thoughts to the resilient people of Gaza and al-Quds. You are carrying the task of the fight against different traitors, we will pray for your victory and ask you to remain resilient. We are fighting in Mali but our eyes are on your fight and following it closely.”

Mali – Sahel: May 2018 Violent incidents by Al-Qaeda affiliate Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen (JNIM), Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS), Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP), Ansaroul Islam, and other security incidents

By Rida Lyammouri,

June 14, 2018

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FULL PDF REPORT – MAY 2018 INCIDENT TRACKER

Mali – Sahel: August 2017 – April 2018 Chronology of Violent Incidents by Al-Qaeda Affiliate Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen (JNIM), Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS), Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP), Ansaroul Islam, and Armed Banditry and Inter-Community Violence

 

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CLICK HERE FOR FULL PDF REPORT

 

 

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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