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US designates Jihadi group as terrorist in Mali

West & Central Africa

US designates Jihadi group as terrorist in Mali

The jihadist group, Ansaroul Islam, has been designated a terrorist organisation by the United State Department, noting that the Islamist terror group has “launched numerous attacks in northern Burkina Faso near the border with Mali.”

The terrorist organisation was formed in 2016 in Mali by a radical Burkinabe imam popularly called Ibrahim Dicko, with links to Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). He was arrested by French forces in 2015 but and was later released.

After his death in 2017, Ibrahim was replaced by Jafar, his brother.

Jafar merged the group with Ansar Dine’s Katibat Macina (the Macina Liberation Front) and together with  Amadou Kouffa, of Macina Liberation Front, Ansaroul Islam (AI) was formed. AI targeted French and Malian soldiers in its insurgency and its first attack in December 2016, 12 soldiers were killed in Nassoumbou, northern Burkina Faso, aided by members of Katibat Macina and another Ansar Dine unit, Katibat Serma.

In March 2017, Ansar Dine and its battalions, AQIM in the Sahara, and Al Murabitoon merged to form the Group for Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM).

The conglomeration of terrorist groups in the west African region of Mali; the Islamist Imghad and Allies Self Defense Movement (GATIA) and the Movement for the Salvation of Azawad (MSA), terror groups as well as the Islamic State under the leadership of Abu Walid al Sahrawi, the leader of the so-called Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) are generation a lot of concern for the international community.

Meanwhile JNIM, linked to the kidnapping of at least six western christian missionaries in recent years, has claimed responsibility, on Friday, for an attack that killed two French soldiers on 21 February, on two Mauritanian websites. The soldiers were killed by an explosive device that hit their armoured vehicle near Mali’s border with Niger and Burkina Faso.

In October, militants killed four U.S. troops just over the border in Niger, stirring controversies in the US about the circumstances of their death and the role of the US army in the region as well as President Donald Trump’s responses to the incident.

 

Hassan John is West Africa Editor, GCN and Priest of the Anglican Diocese of Jos

Image Credits: Google images/Al Queada in Magreb