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Jamaat Nosrat al-Islam wal-Mouslimin (JNIM)
Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (GSIM)
Group to Support Islam and Muslims
Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimeen

Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM) was formed in March 2017. JNIM has described itself as al-Qaidas official branch in Mali and has claimed responsibility for numerous attacks and kidnappings In 2017, the Sahara Branch of al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, al-Murabitoun, Ansar al-Dine, and the Macina Liberation Front came together to form JNIM. JNIM was led by Iyad ag Ghali. JNIM is estimated to have between 1,000 and 2,000 fighters. The group is located in Mali. JNIM receives funding through kidnapping-for-ransom and extortion, and from smugglers and traffickers who pay a tax in exchange for permission and safe transit through JNIM-controlled trafficking routes in Mali.

France on 13 November 2020 announced the killing of Bah Ag Moussa, a top commander of an al Qaeda-linked militant group, during an operation in northeastern Mali. Ag Moussa was allegedly responsible for several attacks against Malian and international forces in recent years. Announcing the killing of Bah Ag Moussa, described as the military commander of the Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM), French Defence Minister Florence Parly on Friday called it a major success in the fight against terrorism".

A former Malian armed forces officer, Ag Moussa also known as Bamoussa Diarra later participated in the Tuareg rebellions in the 1990s and early 2000s before turning into a jihadist militant. A close associate of Iyad Ag Ghali the leader of Malis most prominent armed group, Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM) Ag Moussa was on the US and UNs terrorist lists.

His death was announced on the fifth anniversary of the November 13, 2015 Paris terrorist attacks that killed 130 people. The killing of the major al Qaeda-linked militant has been hailed as a major boost for the thousands-strong French Barkhane force stationed Africas Sahel region for over half a decade in a grinding fight against multiple jihadist groups who are often also fighting each other. It came just over a month after the Malian government freed around 200 jihadist prisoners in a deal to secure the release of former Malian prime minister Soumaila Ciss and French aid worker Sophie Ptronin who were both kidnapped by jihadist groups in Mali.

Yhe death of Bah Ag Moussa was a blow to the GSIM, especially after the images, displayed on social media, of the meeting of the 200 jihadists released in exchange for four hostages, including Frenchwoman Sophie Ptronin and Soumala Ciss, a leading Malian political figure. Those images represented a slap in the face for France, although there was every reason to rejoice over the release of the hostages. The objective of the military operations, that have been multiplying since October 30, seems to be the rallying of troops of the Barkhane force, after the unease caused by the release of these hundreds of jihadists. GSIM, having recovered some 200 men, had received, according to various sources, a ransom of 30 million.

JNIM continued to commit numerous attacks against civilian and military targets as well as kidnappings. In June 2017, JNIM carried out an attack at a resort frequented by Westerners outside of Bamako, Mali, and was responsible for the large-scale coordinated attacks in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, on March 2, 2018.

JNIM was designated as a FTO on September 6, 2018. In 2018, JNIM claimed responsibility for several attacks including a June suicide attack against an African Coalition base in Mali that killed at least six people. In July, JNIM claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing in Gao, Mali, which targeted a French military patrol that killed civilians. In November 2018, JNIM claimed responsibility for the detonation of a truck bomb in a residential complex in Gao, killing three and injuring 30.

Jamaa Nusrat ul-Islam wa al-Muslimin (JNIM) (QDe.159) continues to represent the principal international terrorist threat in the West Africa region, perpetrating terrorist attacks, developing insurgencies and maintaining safe havens in northern Mali. It destabilizes the Sahel and has increased its presence in littoral countries. Member States in the region report external influences from the Gulf region that shape the environment in which JNIM operates. This is accomplished by means of the promotion of a radical ideology through the presence of foreign activists operating non-profit organizations, which provide an alternative to State authority. JNIM pursues a long-term agenda to transform and radicalize society in its expanding areas of operation.

Based on the increasing importance of the operational capabilities of Katiba Macina within the JNIM operational framework, Amadou Koufa (not listed) was assessed to be a key lieutenant to overall leader Iyad Ag Ghali (QDi.316). Koufa called on the Fulani community to join and support his group and take a stand against local authorities throughout West Africa. Member States in the region noted the orchestration of inter-ethnic violence to mobilize more Fulanis in Burkina Faso and Mali. They also highlighted a significant threat associated with attempted manipulation of the Fulani community in Benin, Cte dIvoire, Ghana, Guinea, Senegal and Togo. Nevertheless, the Fulani community is diverse, with its own various local issues, and is unlikely to unite in support of Katiba Macina and JNIM objectives. Katiba Macina and Ansarul Islam still benefit from mentoring by the Emirate of Timbuktu (the former Sahara branch of AQIM), which directly facilitates the expansion of the terrorist threat to the south.

Despite significant attrition from counter-terrorism operations, ISGS retains a stronghold in the tri-border area between Burkina Faso, Mali and the Niger, and maintains pressure on defence and security forces south of routes nationales 16 and 20 in Mali. In two major attacks, ISGS killed 49 soldiers at Indelimane military camp in Mali on 1 November, and 71 soldiers at In-Ats camp in the Niger on 10 December. Burkina Faso and Mali also suffered substantial losses in other significant attacks perpetrated by JNIM, ISGS and Ansarul Islam. Since July 2019, more than 100 members of the defence and security forces of Mali, 85 members of such forces in the Niger and 30 in Burkina Faso have been killed. The operational efficiency of terrorist groups in the region is enhanced by deconfliction and operational collaboration between the groups in high-profile attacks.

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Page last modified: 08-01-2021 13:49:21 ZULU