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Katibat Macina
Macina Liberation Front (MLF)

Jamaa Nusrat ul-Islam wa al-Muslimin (JNIM) (QDe.159) remains the leading and most dangerous terrorist group in the Sahel, as well as one of the most successful Al-Qaida affiliates. JNIM is a coalition comprised of an estimated 100 to 150 combatants from Ansar Eddine (QDe.135), 50 to 100 from the Emirate of Timbuktu (the Sahara branch of AQIM (QDe.014)), 50 to 80 from Al Mourabitoun (QDe.141) and approximately 500 from Katibat Macina (the former Macina Liberation Front).

The Macina Liberation Front (MLF) came to international attention in 2015. Based largely around the town of Macina in southern Mali, the MLF came to prominence after carrying out a number of attacks since January 2015. The group is thought to have as many as 4,000 members and draws its membership largely from the Fulani (also called Peul), a diverse ethnic group with scattered populations across West Africa.

The French military continued its integrated counterterrorism mission for the Sahel region under Operation Barkhane, based out of Chad. In cooperation with Malian forces, Barkhane launched numerous operations to degrade the remaining violent extremist elements operating in northern Mali, including al-Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), al-Murabitoun (AMB), the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), the Macina Liberation Front (MLF), and Ansar alDine (AAD). Domestic and international security forces believed most, if not all of these groups, were coordinating their efforts.

In August 2015 MLF fighters were thought to be behind a hostage-taking incident at the Byblos Hotel in Sevare, central Mali, in which 13 people, including five UN workers died. That incident bears more than a passing resemblance to the Bamako hotel attack in November 2015.

On November 20th at 7AM, two men armed with AK-47s stormed the Radisson Blu Hotel in Bamako, taking the guests and staff hostage, and killing 20 of them. After a 10-hour siege, Malian Special Forces, with support from French, American, and UN forces, neutralized and killed the two attackers. In the following days, both Al-Mourabitoune, a jihadist organization led by Mokhtar Belmokhtar and affiliated with Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), as well as the Macina Liberation Front, reportedly close to Malian jihadist organization Ansar Dine, took credit for the attack. This is the most important terrorist attack on the Malian capital since the attack at the bar La Terrasse in which five (5) people were killed in March 2015.

The MLF claimed it carried out the attack on the Radisson Blu hotel in the capital Bamako, in which around 20 people died. It said the killings were in response to French military intervention in Africas Sahel region, a part of West Africa that includes Mali.

The MLF is led by Amadou Koufa, a preacher from the central Malian town of Niafunke. Koufas mentor is Iyad Ag Ghali, leader of another militant group called Ansar Dine, which emerged in 2012 and held sway over much of northern Mali before being pushed back by French-led military intervention in 2013. The group proposes to revive the 19th century Macina Empire, a Fulani-led Islamist state centerd on the Mopti and Segou regions of Mali. Ansar Dines official branch in southern Mali, Katibat Macina (more commonly known as Macina Liberation Front), released its first video on 19 May 2016, after a year of official existence. The low quality video showed the Macina fighters celebrating after last Junes attack in the southern city of Nara near the Mauritanian border.

Macina Empire

The Macina Empire (Var.: Maasina or Massina: also: Dina of Massina, Sise Jihad state, and Caliphate of Hamdullahi) was an early nineteenth-century Fulbe Jihad state centered in the Inner Niger Delta area of what is now the Mopti and Sgou Regions of Mali. Its capital was at Hamdullahi.

In the ninth century the Fulani occupying the town of Masina, situated on the Niger between Jenne and Timbuctoo. By an agreement between themselves, the people of Masina had for their kings alternately a Berber and a Fulani. Masina was independent enough at the end of the ninth century to solicit help from the Berber kings of the Desert Empire against black neighbours who pressed upon it inconveniently, and to carry through a victorious campaign. It held its own against Ghana in the great days of that pagan empire, and maintained itself as a center of Fulani rule through the administrations alike of Melle and of Songhay.

Sonni Ali in 1492 conquered the Fulani of Gurma in the eastern portion of the Bend of the Niger. Sonni Ali also apparently conquered Masina so far as to induce it to pay tribute and to accept the investiture of its rulers from the hands of Timbuctoo, but it jealously guarded its administrative independence, and throughout the records of the Songhay dynasty wars with Masina were of frequent recurrence. Differences of religion were often apparently involved.

Opinion is divided as to the period at which the Fulani generally accepted Mohammedanism, but the fact mentioned in the chronicles of Bornu that Fulani teachers from Melle were among the first to preach the doctrines of Mohammed in Bornu in the early part of the thirteenth century, combined with the high position constantly taken by Fulani individuals throughout the history of the Soudan as teachers, men of letters, &c, would seem to indicate that the conversion of the upper class of Fulani was of comparatively early date.

Some writers assert that Kanta, the rebellious general of Songhay who founded the kingdom of Kebbi, was himself of Fulani origin. This is uncertain, but in the next generation to Kanta the Fulani of the eastern portion of the Bend of the Niger joined the banners of his son. It was as a partly Fulani kingdom that Kebbi became great, and the Fulani may perhaps be said to have first taken a position as rulers on the eastern side of the Niger when they helped Tomo, the son of Kanta, to fight Bornu, and to found the even now celebrated town of Birni-nKebbi within the borders of Haussaland in 1544. They had also, in the sixteenth century, spread into Baghirmi on the eastern side of Chad. In the west they gradually absorbed the province of Wangara, and greatly aggrandised their ancient territory of Masina.

At the moment of the coming of the Moors they were the rising power of the Soudan, and during the Moorish troubles at the end of the sixteenth and the beginning of the seventeenth centuries, they used their opportunity to assert their independence of Songhay. The resistance offered by the half Fulani state of Kebbi to the eastward advance of the Moors has been mentioned in an earlier chapter. In 1599 Masina opened a campaign against the Moors, and though defeated in the first instance, the reverse would only seem to have consolidated Fulani resistance to the foreign rule.

In 1629, the kings of Masina refused any longer to accept investiture from the decadent government of Timbuctoo, and during the seventeenth century the Fulani fought for their independence in the eastern as well as in the western districts of the Bend of the Niger. The Moors, harried upon the north by the Tuaregs of the desert, and on the south by the Fulani, abandoned the vain attempt to maintain their supremacy in the Soudan. They were driven out of Gago, as has been already mentioned, in 1770. They continued to hold the town of Timbuctoo, but during the eighteenth century, when the Moors had fallen to the condition described by Mungo Park, the contest for the sovereignty of the Soudan would seem to have been between the Fulani and the Tuaregs. It was the Tuaregs who finally drove the Moors from Timbuctoo in the year 1800, and within a generation the Tuaregs themselves were driven out by the Fulani.

During this whole period of tumult the Soudan was closed to Europe, and there is no accurate account of the series of local wars by which it would seem to have been distracted. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, when, after an eclipse of two hundred years, its history once more emerges into view, the situation is so far clear that the Fulani had become the dominating people, alike in the west and in the east.

The foundation of the last Peul empire was directly associated with the Islamic propaganda. The religious revival was due to the development of the mystical beliefs and hagiologiques prevalent in the late eighteenth century from the East to West Africa. There were two main main religious brotherhoods: Qadriya (Kadariyya) representing the Arab-Berber group and a peaceful trend; the Tidjaniya (Tidjaniyya), which represent the Fulani group and an armed proselytism. More than the others, the Fulani, reduced to lower class condition, the mass of the population remained attached to traditional religions. In the west, where the Tuaregs were their opponents, they were a little later in attaining to supreme power than in the eastern states, but in 1813 Masina became the seat of a powerful Fulani Empire, ruled by a Sheikh of the name of Ahmadou. Under the leadership of Ahmadou, Masina conquered Timbuctoo in 1833. On the death of Ahmadou in 1844, Timbuctoo was once more taken by the Tuaregs, but it was reconquered by the Fulani in 1855, and, with the exception of three years, from 1860 to 1863, when it was taken and held by the Toucouleurs, a half-breed Fulani people, the true Fulani continued to hold it up to the moment of its conquest by the French in 1893. The Toucouleurs, who remained masters of a portion of the Niger Valley, and who also submitted to France in 1893, were a people in whose veins Fulani blood predominated to so great an extent that their ascendancy on the upper river may be accepted as representing for that part of the country the general ascendancy of the Fulani.

The country was permeated with Fulani influence. Cow Fulani fed their cattle in every province. The principal towns had their Fulani quarters; Fulani teachers had for six hundred years spread the doctrines of Mohammed; distinguished members of the Fulani race occupied high places as councillors, judges, high priests, and men of war.

Mohammed el Kanemi arose in Kanem, and took the reins of power from the effete sovereigns of Bornu. This man, who founded the dynasty of Bornu, was visited by Major Denham in 1823, and is described by him as "a most extraordinary instance in the Eastern world of fearless bravery, virtue, and simplicity." His career was remarkable enough to deserve something more than a passing mention. He was born in Fezzan, though of Kanem parents, having, it is said, on his father's side, some Moorish blood. He appears to have been, at least partly, educated in Egypt, and to have been already in the position of a Sheikh before he first visited the home of his parents in Kanem. Here he lived for some years, greatly beloved and respected for the extreme uprightness and benevolence of his life. He completely overthrew the Fulani.

Usman Danfodio founded the Sokoto caliphate in Hausa land in 1809, authorized Seku Amadu to carry out a jihad. Seku Amadu received a flag from Usman Dan-fodio which symbolizes his authority. Seku Amadus jihad continued from 1810 and 1818, which recorded the estimated total of 10,000 deaths. Amadu conquered Timbuktu in 1825, and died in 1845, leaving control of the Massina Empire to his son, Amadu II, who was succeeded by his son Amadu III. Amadu mo Amadu mo Amadu Lobbo), also known as Amadu Amadu (1830 - 16 May 1862) was the third and last ruler of the theocratic Massina Empire (Diina of Hamdullahi) in the Inner Niger Delta, now the Mopti Region of Mali. He was elected as successor to his father, Amadu II of Masina, in 1853.

Throughout most of his rule he was involved in conflict with the jihadist al-Hajj 'Umar Tall of Toucouleur. Tukulor, also spelled Tukolor or Toucouleur, are a Muslim people who mainly inhabit Senegal, with smaller numbers in western Mali. In 1861, the Toucouleur (Peulh) warrior and his Islamic army, using guns acquired through trade with Europeans, toppled the Bambara Empire and briefly established a theocracy the region. The Toucouleur leaders took Bobo as slaves and conscripted them into their army.

In 1862, El Hadj Umar Tall launched an attack on the Massina from his newly secured base at Sgou. After a series of bloody battles, he entered Hamdullahi on March 16, levelling it. Amadu III was captured and put to death. Though resistance briefly continued under Amadu III's brother Ba Lobbo, the destruction marked the effective end of the Massina Empire.

In 1880, during the European scramble for Africa', the French military arrived to assert Paris's claim to the territory that it initially called Upper Senegal.



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Page last modified: 31-01-2020 19:13:31 ZULU