Al Qaeda branch in sub-Saharan Africa, Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM, or the “Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims”), has released a new video addressing the families of several of its hostages. Also addressing the French government’s lack of interest in freeing these hostages. JNIM and other groups in the region have for years released videos showing the statues of the captives until recently.
According to an English-speaking jihadist who represents JNIM, they have decided to discontinue the release and production of any video concerning the captives held by the group for undisclosed reasons.
The production of the latest video, which lasts 10-minutes, is intended to pressure the hostage’s families at home and pressure the government into acting on these matters. The video was produced by JNIM’s media arm, Az-Zallaqa, and it’s unit responsible for handling hostage-related messages Al- Ezza Productions.
An image at the beginning of the production (seen below) ties Az-Zallaqa to the media arms of three other Al Qaeda branches: Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (Al-Andalus Media), Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (Al-Malahem Media), and Al Shabaab in Somalia (Al-Kataib Media).
The majority of the message in the video is addressed to the French government and their failings to address the current situation. Particularly involving Sophie Petronin. A French humanitarian worker who was kidnapped in the northern city of Goa on December 24th, 2016. Al Qaeda men have tried on several occasions to secure a ransom for Petronin’s release, but have yet failed to come to an agreement.
In recent weeks several French outlets have spoken about Sophie’s case, and it seems that the French government has shown a complete lack of disregard to such matters. JNIM says the government attention has been on the commemoration of the 100-year anniversary of the First World War, which took place in November. The fact that this has more press coverage and more attention than that of Sophie’s case, JNIM feels as though they have abandoned her.
The English-speaking jihadist would later go on to directly address a message to Sophie’s son Sebastian. Apologizing to him for not being able to visit his mother and blaming the entire ordeal on the French government. JNIM’s frontman would later praise Sebastian’s handling of the matter, but calls upon him to embrace Islam.
During the speech, they also address the other hostages, which are still currently being held with little to no media coverage and no organization working to secure their release — including that of their host nation governments.
One of the hostages that is currently being held is Patrice Stockley. In this strange case of events, Stockley was kidnapped 2012 by Al Qaeda militants and then released on a later date. An agreement was made, and she promised that she would not return. Stupidly, she returned to the country and continued to practice Christianity — which later led to her kidnapping a second time.
Hostage taking in this region is very high I have written about this in the past extensively. Hostage taking as a business for the likes of Al Qaeda, and indeed a very lucrative one. To this day, it has most likely made them millions of dollars. The reality of why they are kidnapping Westerners is that they would like to use them as a bartering chip two essentially kick France out of Mali, and remove all Western forces from the region. The other is undoubtedly funding for their cause, allowing them to recruit and continue with its war.