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Northern Mali clans swear allegiance to JNIM


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FDD's Long War Journal

Caleb Weiss

January 23, 2023

Over the weekend, the Group for Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM), al Qaeda’s branch in the Sahel and much of West Africa, published photos showing several notables from various local clans in northern Mali pledging bay’ah [allegiance] to its leader Iyad Ag Ghaly. 

The bay’ah ceremony in Mali’s extreme northern Menaka Region comes after intense clashes between various local factions and communities, sometimes backed by JNIM, and the Islamic State’s Sahel Province (more colloquially known as the Islamic State Greater Sahara, or ISGS).

In defending local communities, JNIM has now benefited from many such factions joining its ranks for protection. 

Despite only a handful of photos being released, several images do show the clan notables sitting with Iyad Ag Ghaly and pledging loyalty to him. In other photos, JNIM’s men can be seen accepting the pledge from several armed men, including some in technicals (or pick-ups fitted with heavy machine guns). 

As of the time of publishing, no video or audio has been publicly released from these events. 

According to Radio France Internationale (RFI), the clan notables belonged to the Daoussahak community in the northern Malian town of Inékar, near the borders with Niger. Though commonly referred to as a sub-section of the Tuareg due to common cultural and linguistic traits, the Daoussahak maintain they are an independent ethnic group in Mali’s north and predate many of the Tuareg in the area. 

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