Islamic State in the Greater Sahara

The Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) is an Islamic State-affiliated militant organization operating in the African Sahel region.

AT A GLANCE

Overview

Brief Summary of the Organization's History.

Organization

How does a group organize? Who leads it? How does it finance operations?

Strategy

How does a group fight? What are its aims and ideologies? What are some of its major attacks?

Major Attacks

What are the group's most famous attacks? What are some key attacks in the group's evolution?

Interactions

What is the group's relationship with the community? How does it interact with other groups?

Maps

What is the group's relationship with other militants over time?

Key Statistics

2015 First Recorded Activity
2016 First Attack
2018 Last Recorded Activity

Contact

mappingmilitants [at] lists [dot] stanford [dot] edu

How to Cite:

Mapping Militant Organizations. “The Islamic State in the Greater Sahara.” Stanford University. Last modified July 2018. <https://internal.fsi.stanford.edu/content/mmp-islamic-state-greater-sahara>

Overview

Brief History

    Overview
  • Overview
  • Narrative

Overview

FormedMay 2015
DisbandedGroup is active.
First AttackSeptember 2, 2016: ISGS forces attacked a gendarmerie military outpost at the border between Burkina Faso and Mali, killing a border agent and civilian (2 killed, unknown wounded).
Last AttackMay 16, 2018: The ISGS abducted and executed Hamada Ag Mohamed, a local leader in the Malian town Tin Habou, who had recently left GATIA to join HCUA. The execution followed two other executions of two leaders of the Malian army and GATIA forces in the previous month. The ISGS published a written statement claiming responsibility for the attack on May 23 (3 killed, unknown wounded).
UpdatedJuly 18, 2018

The Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) is an affiliate of the Islamic State, operating in Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso. The group formed as a splinter from Al Mourabitoun, an Al Qaeda-affiliated militant organization, when Adnan Abu Walid al Sahrawi swore allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) and its emir, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi. The Islamic State has recognized the ISGS as a regional affiliate, but the type of support it receives from the larger group is unknown. The ISGS has carried out several major attacks in the Sahel region, most notably the ambush of a joint U.S.-Nigerien force in October 2017 that led to the deaths of 4 Green Berets and several Nigerien soldiers. Since February 2018, the group has clashed repeatedly with French counterterrorism forces and allied militia groups under Operation Barkhane.

Narrative

The Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) is an affiliate of the Islamic State, operating in Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso. The group formed as a splinter from Al Mourabitoun, an Al Qaeda-affiliated group allied with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). After the deaths of several prominent leaders of Al Mourabitoun, in 2015, Adnan Abu Walid al Sahrawi became emir of Al Mourabitoun.[i] AQIM founder Mokhtar Belmokhtar and his fighters viewed Sahrawi’s leadership as illegitimate because they believed he was inexperienced and lacked knowledge of jihadi strategy and AQ ideology.[ii] Tensions within the group began to rise as Sahrawi increasingly aligned with the ideology of the Islamic State (IS), in contrast to Belmokhtar’s efforts to reconcile with the AQIM.[iii] Conflict reached a peak when, in May 2015, Sahrawi released an audio statement swearing Al Mourabitoun’s allegiance to IS and its emir Abu Bakr al Baghdadi. Shortly after, Belmokhtar declared that Sahrawi did not speak on behalf of Al Mourabitoun and reaffirmed the group’s loyalty to AQ. Sahrawi left Al Mourabitoun to form the IS-affiliated Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS). Soon after its establishment, the ISGS reportedly clashed with militants loyal to Belmokhtar and pre-empted several assassination attempts on Sahrawi.[iv] Under Belmokhtar’s leadership, Al Mourabitoun officially rejoined AQIM in December 2015. Some speculate this was in response to the challenge posed by the ISGS’s splinter and declaration of loyalty to the IS.[v]

In October 2016, the Islamic State acknowledged the ISGS as an affiliate in West Africa.[vi] The IS official news agency published a video in which Sahrawi and the ISGS pledged allegiance to IS and Baghdadi. There is some speculation as to why IS did not recognize the ISGS’s pledge for over a year. While the ISGS is a regional affiliate of the IS, the type of support it receives from the Islamic State is unknown.[vii] Since publishing the ISGS’s statement of allegiance, IS has not claimed responsibility for any attacks on behalf of the ISGS via its central media office.[viii]

The ISGS has launched various attacks on military targets associated with the Niger, Malian, Burkinabe, and western militaries, and civilian targets in the Sahel region. Its most high profile attack took place in October 2017, when up to 100 jihadist fighters ambushed a joint U.S.-Nigerien patrol in Tongo Tongo, Niger, killing 4 U.S. Green Berets, an interpreter, and 5 Nigerien soldiers.[ix]

The ISGS has benefited from violence between ethnic groups and ethnic-based militias in West Africa. The group is allegedly skilled at exploiting the sense of discrimination and desire for self-defense among youth in minority ethnic groups; accordingly, the ISGS has recruited members from diverse groups throughout the Sahel region, including the Fulanis, Bozos, Bambara, and Mossi.[x]

From February 2018, French counterterrorism forces under Operation Barkhane began vigorously targeting the ISGS’s bases and fighters. The ISGS fought repeatedly with the Malian army and local militias aligned with the French forces, specifically the Movement for Salvation of Azawad (MSA), Tuareg Imghad, and the Allies Self-Defense Group (GATIA).[xi] The ISGS has also struggled to assert is presence in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger, due to the dominance of AQ and its affiliates in the region.[xii] However, in early 2018, an ISGS spokesperson claimed that AQ-affiliated group Jammat Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen (JNIM) shared their goal of defending Islam and hinted that collaboration between the two groups could take place.[xiii]



[i] Nossiter, Adam. "Gunman Kills Five in Restaurant in Mali." The New York Times. The New York Times, 07 Mar. 2015. Web. 19 July 2016.

[ii] Lyammouri, Rida. "Key Events That Led to Tensions Between Mokhtar Belmokhtar and Adnan Abu Walid Al-Sahrawi Before Splitting." Maghreb and Sahel. Wordpress, 07 Dec. 2015. Web. 21 July 2016.

[iii] Lyammouri, Rida. "Key Events That Led to Tensions Between Mokhtar Belmokhtar and Adnan Abu Walid Al-Sahrawi Before Splitting." Maghreb and Sahel. Wordpress, 07 Dec. 2015. Web. 21 July 2016.

[iv] Joscelyn, Thomas, and Caleb Weiss. “Report: Head of the Islamic State’s Sahara branch threatens Morocco | The Long War Journal.” The Long War Journal, 06 May 2016. Web. 17 July 2018.

[v] Joscelyn, Thomas and Caleb Weiss. "Islamic State recognizes oath of allegiance from jihadists in Mali | The Long War Journal." The Long War Journal, 31 Oct. 2016. Web. 27 June 2018.

[vi] Joscelyn, Thomas and Caleb Weiss. "Islamic State recognizes oath of allegiance from jihadists in Mali | The Long War Journal." The Long War Journal, 31 Oct. 2016. Web. 27 June 2018; Mellgard, Emily. "Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO)." Tony Blair Faith Foundation, n.d. Web. 28 June 2016; Lebovich, Andrew. "The Hotel Attacks and Militant Realignment in the Sahara-Sahel Region | Combating Terrorism Center at West Point." Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, 19 Jan. 2016. Web. 18 July 2016.

[vii] Campbell, John. “The Islamic State ‘Presence’ in the Sahel is more complicated than affiliates suggest.” Council on Foreign Relations, 01 June 2018. Web. 18 July 2018; Warner, Jason. “Sub-Sahara Africa’s Three new Islamic State Affiliates | Combating Terrorism Center at West Point." Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, Jan. 2017. Web. 18 July 2018.

[viii] Joscelyn, Thomas, and Caleb Weiss. "Islamic State recognizes oath of allegiance from jihadists in Mali | The Long War Journal." The Long War Journal, 31 Oct. 2016. Web. 27 June 2018.

[ix] “ISIS in the Greater Sahara.” The Soufan Group, 18 May 2018. Web. 17 July 2018; “TSC IntelBrief: The Ambush in Niger.” The Soufan Group, 25 Oct. 2017. Web. 17 July 2018; Gibbons-Neff, Thomas, and Helene Cooper. “U.S. Identifies 3 ISIS Militants Who Led Deadly Ambush in Niger.” The NY Times, 29 May 2018. Web. 18 July 2018.

[x] Carayol, Remi. “Mali: dans la region de Mopti, <<l’Etat ne controle plus rien>>.” Jeune Afrique, 14 Dec. 2016. Web. 18 July 2018.

[xi] Kishi, Roudabeh, and Heni Nsaibia. “In light of the recent attacks in Ouagadougou.” ACLED, 03 March 2018. Web. 17 July 2018; Weiss, Caleb. “Tuareg militias battle Islamic State-loyal militants in northern Mali | The Long War Journal.” The Long War Journal, 25 Feb. 2018. Web. 17 July 2018; “Video: Another video released by Katiba Salaheddine (ISGS) – ‘Response to aggression by MSA and GATIA.” Mentastream, 30 June 2018. Web. 18 July 2018.

[xii] “West Africa Analysis: Islamic State recognizes ISGS as West African affiliate following increased attacks in recent months, despite 17 month silence.” MAX Security, n.d. Web. 18 July 2018.

[xiii] Lounnas, Djalli. “The Transmutation of Jihadi Organizations in the Sahel and the regional security architecture.” Middle East and North Africa Regional Architecture, 10 April 2018. Web. 18 July 2018.

 

Organizational Structure

Leadership, Name Changes, Size Estimates, Resources, Geographic Locations

    Leadership
  • Leadership
  • Adnan Abu Walid al Sahrawi (May 2015 to Present)
  • Ibrahim Ousmane (May 2015 – Unknown)
  • Khalid al-Fulani (Unknown - Present)

Leadership

This section describes various leaders, their deputies, and other important officials in the militant organization.

Adnan Abu Walid al Sahrawi (May 2015 to Present)

A former spokesperson for MUJAO and emir of Al Mourabitoun, Sahrawi pledged Al Mourabitoun’s allegiance to IS in May 2015. Sahrawi split from the group to form the ISGS when Al Mourabitoun founder Belmokhtar rejected this pledge.[i] The U.S. government designated Sahrawi a Specially Designated Global Terrorist in May 2018.[ii]



[i] Joscelyn, Thomas. "Confusion Surrounds West African Jihadists’ Loyalty to Islamic State | The Long War Journal." The Long War Journal, 14 May 2014. Web. 28 June 2016; Mellgard, Emily. "Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO)." Tony Blair Faith Foundation, n.d. Web. 28 June 2016.

[ii] “State Department Terrorist Designations of ISIS in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) and Adnan Abu Walid al-Sahrawi.” U.S. Department of State, 16 May 2018. Web. 18 July 2018.

 

Ibrahim Ousmane (May 2015 – Unknown)

Ousmane, also known as Dandou Cheffou, is a senior lieutenant in the ISGS and was responsible for the October 2017 ambush in Tongo Tongo that killed U.S. special forces and Nigerien soldiers. Prior to becoming a jihadist, he was a Fulani cattle herder in Niger.[i]



[i] “Genesis of Jihad: Why is the U.S. fighting cattle herders who turned to terror in Niger and Mali.” Haaretz, 14 Nov. 2017. Web. 18 July 2018.

 

Khalid al-Fulani (Unknown - Present)

Al-Fulani, also known as Petit Tchafori, is a senior Fulani officer in the ISGS.[i]



[i] “Genesis of Jihad: Why is the U.S. fighting cattle herders who turned to terror in Niger and Mali.” Haaretz, 14 Nov. 2017. Web. 18 July 2018; Nsaibia, Heni. “Targeting of the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS).” ACLED, 21 March 2018. Web. 17 July 2018.

 

    Name Changes
  • Name Changes
  • Size Estimates
  • Resources
  • Geographic Locations

Name Changes

There are no recorded name changes for this group.

Size Estimates

  • May 2018: 40 – 60 core members (The Times)[i]


[i] Gibbons-Neff, Thomas, and Helene Cooper. “U.S. Identifies 3 ISIS Militants Who Led Deadly Ambush in Niger.” The New York Times, 29 May 2018. Web. 18 July 2018.

 

Resources

The ISGS receives reinforcements and personnel from Katiba Salaheddine, a militant group that was loosely associated with the JNIM but pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in February 2018.[i] In the same month, a group of Toleebe Fulani militants defected from the Macina Liberation Front to join the ISGS, bringing personnel.[ii]

While the ISGS is a regional affiliate of the IS, the type of support it receives from the Islamic State is unknown.[iii]



[i] Nsaibia, Heni. “Targeting of the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS).” ACLED, 21 March 2018. Web. 17 July 2018.

[ii] Nsaibia, Heni. “Targeting of the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS).” ACLED, 21 March 2018. Web. 17 July 2018.

[iii] Campbell, John. “The Islamic State ‘Presence’ in the Sahel is more complicated than affiliates suggest.” Council on Foreign Relations, 01 June 2018. Web. 18 July 2018; Warner, Jason. “Sub-Sahara Africa’s Three new Islamic State Affiliates | Combating Terrorism Center at West Point." Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, Jan. 2017. Web. 18 July 2018.

 

Geographic Locations

Disclaimer: This is a partial list of where the militant organization has bases and where it operates. This does not include information on where the group conducts major attacks or has external influences.

The ISGS operates in Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso. It has specifically conducted military activity in the Menaka and Gao regions of Mali, the Tillabery region of Niger, and the Oudalan province in Burkina Faso.[i]



[i] Nsaibia, Heni. “Targeting of the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS).” ACLED, 21 March 2018. Web. 17 July 2018.

 

Strategy

Ideology, Aims, Political Activities, Targets, and Tactics

    Ideology and Goals
  • Ideology and Goals
  • Political Activities
  • Targets and Tactics

Ideology and Goals

The ISGS draws much of its strategic direction and ideological goals from the IS.

As an affiliate of the Islamic State, the ISGS has pledged loyalty to the IS’s goal of restoring the Islamic caliphate. In the video declaring the group’s allegiance to the IS, ISGS founder Sahrawi recognized Baghdadi as “Emir ul-Mu’minin,” a title denoting the status of caliph.[i]



[i] Joscelyn, Thomas, and Caleb Weiss. “Islamic State recognizes oath of allegiance from jihadists in Mali | The Long War Journal.” The Long War Journal, 31 Oct. 2016. Web. 17 July 2018

 

Political Activities

There are no recorded political activities for this group.

Targets and Tactics

The ISGS targets the military and police forces of the countries in which it operates— Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso—and intervention forces from France and the US. It attacks troops and bases associated with MINUSMA, the UN stabilization mission in Mali.[i] Since February 2018, the ISGS has fought extensively with the militant groups aligned with the French Operation Barkhane, specifically GATIA (Groupe Autodéfense Touareg Imghad et Alliés) and the MSA (Movement for Azawad Salvation).[ii] Prior to conducting its first military activity, the ISGS threatened to attack the UN mission in the Western Sahara, the headquarters of Moroccan security forces, western tourists in Morocco, and foreign companies in the region.[iii]

The group frequently uses mortar, heavy machine guns (AK-47s), and rocket-propelled grenades in its attacks, in addition to bomb-loaded trucks and suicide bombings. ISGS militants seize vehicles, arms, and ammunition from enemy convoys. The ISGS recently executed several figures aligned with local governments and leaders of rival militant groups.[iv]

Although the ISGS does not have an independent media office, it has published videos publicizing its military gains after major attacks via third party news agencies.[v]



[i] Nsaibia, Heni. “Targeting of the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS).” ACLED, 21 March 2018. Web. 17 July 2018.

[ii] Weiss, Caleb. “Tuareg militias battle Islamic State-loyal militants in northern Mali | The Long War Journal.” The Long War Journal, 25 Feb. 2018. Web. 17 July 2018.

[iii] Weiss, Caleb. “Islamic State’s Sahara branch claims first attack in Burkina Faso | The Long War Journal.” The Long War Journal, 4 Sept. 2016. Web. 17 July 2018; Joscelyn, Thomas, and Caleb Weiss. “Report: Head of the Islamic State’s Sahara branch threatens Morocco | The Long War Journal.” The Long War Journal, 06 May 2016. Web. 17 July 2018.

[iv] Nsaibia, Heni. “Targeting of the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS).” ACLED, 21 March 2018. Web. 17 July 2018.

[v] “Attacks claimed by the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS).” Menastream, 23 June 2018. Web. 17 July 2018.

 

Major Attacks

First Attacks, Largest Attacks, Notable Attacks

Major Attacks

Disclaimer: These are some selected major attacks in the militant organization's history. It is not a comprehensive listing, but captures some of the most famous attacks or turning points during the campaign.

  1. September 2, 2016: The ISGS attacked a gendarmerie military outpost at the border between Burkina Faso and Mali, killing a border agent and civilian (2 killed, 2 wounded).[i]
  2. October 12, 2016: The ISGS struck a military outpost in Intangom, Mali, killing four soldiers and several civilians. The attackers retreated toward Mali following the attack (7 killed, unknown wounded).[ii]
  3. February 22, 2017: The ISGS ambushed a Nigerien army convoy near the Malian border, close to Tirzawane village. The militants seized vehicles, arms, and ammunition from the convoy (16 killed, 18 wounded).[iii]
  4. October 4, 2017: An ISGS force with up to 100 jihadist fighters ambushed a joint U.S.-Nigerien patrol in Tongo Tongo, Niger, killing 4 U.S. Green Berets, an interpreter, and 5 Nigerien soldiers. An estimated 20 – 25 militants were also killed in the ambush (30 killed, unknown wounded).[iv]
  5. January 11, 2018: The ISGS launched a suicide attack on Operation Barkhane forces by detonating a bomb-loaded truck against a French convoy between the Menaka and Indelimane regions (unknown killed, 3 wounded).[v]
  6. April 8, 2018: 2 ISGS fighters murdered Hamidou Koundaba, the mayor of the Burkinabe Koutougou commune, in front of his home, for collaborating with the Burkina Faso army and western forces (1 killed, unknown wounded).[vi]
  7. May 16, 2018: The ISGS abducted and executed Hamada Ag Mohamed, a local leader in the Malian town Tin Habou, who had recently left GATIA to join HCUA. The execution followed two other executions of two leaders of the Malian army and GATIA forces in the previous month. ISGS published a written statement claiming responsibility for the attack on May 23 (3 killed, unknown wounded).[vii]


[i] Joscelyn, Thomas, and Caleb Weiss. “Islamic State recognizes oath of allegiance from jihadists in Mali | The Long War Journal.” The Long War Journal, 31 Oct. 2016. Web. 17 July 2018; Weiss, Caleb. “Islamic State’s Sahara branch claims first attack in Burkina Faso | The Long War Journal.” The Long War Journal, 4 Sept. 2016. Web. 17 July 2018.

[ii] Kishi, Roudabeh, and Heni Nsaibia. “In light of the recent attacks in Ouagadougou.” ACLED, 03 March 2018. Web. 17 July 2018.

[iii] “Attacks claimed by the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS).” Menastream, 23 June 2018. Web. 17 July 2018.

[iv] “ISIS in the Greater Sahara.” The Soufan Group, 18 May 2018. Web. 17 July 2018; “TSC IntelBrief: The Ambush in Niger.” The Soufan Group, 25 Oct. 2017. Web. 17 July 2018; Gibbons-Neff, Thomas, and Helene Cooper. “U.S. Identifies 3 ISIS Militants Who Led Deadly Ambush in Niger.” The NY Times, 29 May 2018. Web. 18 July 2018.

[v] “Attacks claimed by the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS).” Menastream, 23 June 2018. Web. 17 July 2018.

[vi] “By Day We Fear the Army, By Night the Jihadists.” Human Rights Watch, 21 May 2018. Web. 13 July 2018; “Au Burkina Faso, le rapt d’un enseignant revendique par un groupe islamiste.” Le Monde Afrique, 18 April 2018. Web. 17 July 2018.

[vii] “Attacks claimed by the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS).” Menastream, 23 June 2018. Web. 17 July 2018.

 

Interactions

Foreign Designations and Listings, Community Relations, Relations with Other Groups, State Sponsors and External Influences

    Designated/ Listed
  • Designated/ Listed
  • Community Relations
  • Relationships with Other Groups
  • State Sponsors and External Influences

Designated/ Listed

  • U.S. State Department Foreign Terrorist Organizations: May 16, 2018 to Present.[i]


[i] “ISIS in the Greater Sahara.” The Soufan Group, 18 May 2018. Web. 17 July 2018.

 

Community Relations

The ISGS’s targeting and execution of civilians near their homes has harmed the organization’s relationship with villagers in the Sahel region, particularly in Burkina Faso.[i]

At the same time, violence between ethnic-based militias, especially involving the Fulani and Daoussahak groups, has contributed to the growth in the ISGS’s membership. Youth interested in countering ethnic rivals or gaining protection for their communities have reportedly sought to join the ISGS.[ii] The ISGS has allegedly attracted recruits from the Fulani ethnic group, in Niger, Nigeria, and Chad, and from communities such as the Bozos, Bambara, and Mossi.[iii]



[i] “By Day We Fear the Army, By Night the Jihadists.” Human Rights Watch, 21 May 2018. Web. 13 July 2018.

[ii] Jezequel, Jean-Herve, and Hamza Cherbib. “Niger Clash kills U.S. and Nigerien Troops.” International Crisis Group, 05 Oct. 2017. Web. 17 July 2018; Nsaibia, Heni. “Targeting of the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS).” ACLED, 21 March 2018. Web. 17 July 2018.

[iii] Carayol, Remi. “Mali: dans la region de Mopti, <<l’Etat ne controle plus rien>>.” Jeune Afrique, 14 Dec. 2016. Web. 18 July 2018.

 

Relationships with Other Groups

The Islamic State in the Greater Sahara is the second IS affiliate in West Africa after the Islamic State West African Province, also known as Boko Haram. The founder of the ISGS pledged allegiance to IS emir Abu Bakr al Baghdadi in May 2015; it is uncertain as to why the latter organization did not recognize the ISGS’s pledge until October 2016. The ISGS draws much of its strategic direction and ideological goals from IS. IS has not claimed responsibility for any attacks on behalf of the ISGS via its central media office.[i]

Until early 2018, the ISGS had conflictual relations with Al Qaeda and its regional affiliates due to the competition between the Islamic State and Al Qaeda. AQ’s dominance in Mali and neighboring countries made it difficult for the ISGS to assert its presence in the area.[ii] Moreover, in June 2015, the ISGS and AQIM engaged in violent conflict. Yet relations between the two groups allegedly improved in 2018; in January, an ISGS spokesperson claimed that AQ-affiliated group JNIM shared their goal of defending Islam and hinted that collaboration could take place.[iii]

The ISGS receives reinforcements and personnel from Katiba Salaheddine, a militant group that was loosely associated with the JNIM but pledged allegiance to IS in February 2018.[iv] In the same month, a group of Toleebe Fulani militants defected from the Macina Liberation Front to join the ISGS.[v]

From February 2018, French counterterrorism forces under Operation Barkhane began vigorously targeting the ISGS’s bases and fighters. The ISGS fought repeatedly with local militias aligned with the French forces, specifically the Movement for Salvation of Azawad (MSA), Tuareg Imghad, and the Allies Self-Defense Group (GATIA).[vi]



[i] Joscelyn, Thomas, and Caleb Weiss. "Islamic State recognizes oath of allegiance from jihadists in Mali | The Long War Journal." The Long War Journal, 31 Oct. 2016. Web. 27 June 2018.

[ii] Weiss, Caleb. “Islamic State’s Sahara branch claims first attack in Burkina Faso | The Long War Journal.” The Long War Journal, 4 Sept. 2016. Web. 17 July 2018.

[iii] Lounnas, Djalli. “The Transmutation of Jihadi Organizations in the Sahel and the regional security architecture.” Middle East and North Africa Regional Architecture, 10 April 2018. Web. 18 July 2018.

[iv] Nsaibia, Heni. “Targeting of the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS).” ACLED, 21 March 2018. Web. 17 July 2018.

[v] Nsaibia, Heni. “Targeting of the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS).” ACLED, 21 March 2018. Web. 17 July 2018.

[vi] Kishi, Roudabeh, and Heni Nsaibia. “In light of the recent attacks in Ouagadougou.” ACLED, 03 March 2018. Web. 17 July 2018; Weiss, Caleb. “Tuareg militias battle Islamic State-loyal militants in northern Mali | The Long War Journal.” The Long War Journal, 25 Feb. 2018. Web. 17 July 2018.

 

State Sponsors and External Influences

The ISGS pledged allegiance to IS emir Abu Bakr al Baghdadi in May 2015; the Islamic State recognized the ISGS as an official affiliate in October 2016. The group draws much of its strategic direction from IS and serves as a regional front for the IS’s activity in northern Africa.[i]



[i] Joscelyn, Thomas, and Caleb Weiss. "Islamic State recognizes oath of allegiance from jihadists in Mali | The Long War Journal." The Long War Journal, 31 Oct. 2016. Web. 27 June 2018.

 

Maps

The project develops a series of interactive diagrams that “map” relationships among groups and show how those relationships change over time. The user can change map settings to display different features (e.g., leadership changes), adjust the time scale, and trace individual groups.

Evolving Militant Interactions

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