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Analysis: Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb encourages its Sahelian wing to continue fighting the Islamic State


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Long War Journal

Caleb Weiss

April 20, 2023

Screen-Shot-2023-04-20-at-3.34.58-PM-153

Abu Yasir al-Jaza’iri as seen in the newly released video from al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb

In a newly released video, Abu Yasir al-Jaza’iri, a senior ideologue within al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), sends a message of encouragement to AQIM’s Sahelian wing, the Group for Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM). 

The public video also serves to provide religious and ideological justification to both al-Qaeda’s footsoldiers, and the general population, for JNIM’s recent battles against the Islamic State. The two jihadi rivals have clashed repeatedly in recent weeks and months in Mali’s northern Menaka region.

Despite fierce battles between JNIM and the Islamic State’s Sahel Province (ISSP, or colloquially known as the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara, or ISGS), including instances wherein JNIM utilized suicide car bombs against the rival jihadi faction, ISSP currently has the momentum in Mali’s remote north. 

The Islamic State wing is currently directly controlling or influencing the vast majority of the Menaka region, the largest territorial gain by the local Islamic State branch since its founding in 2015. 

AQIM thus feels it is imperative to boost the morale of its soldiers and rally its men to counter the Islamic State’s advances. 

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