Amadou Koufa, the senior member of the Jama’a Nusrat ul-Islam wa al-Muslimin (JNIM), is alive—despite French forces claiming to have killed him.
The top militant commander purportedly died in a November 2018 raid led by French forces in the central Mopti region. French media shared the story that Koufa appeared “in a 19-minute-long video, answering questions presented by two people in both Arabic and English.” It’s the first sign of life from the fanatical preacher.
Koufa is commander of the Macina Liberation Front (MLF), a local terror group operating in Mali. The group was responsible for the 2015 Bamako attack on the luxury Radisson Blu hotel. MLF later partnered with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. Malian Tuareg Iyad Ag Ghaly later merged other groups to form JNIM, which is when Koufa took a seat at the commander’s table.
Earlier this month, a statement issued by the office of the French Minister of Armies indicated that a ground and air assault by the task force Operation Barkhane—an anti-insurgent operation in Africa’s Sahel region—assassinated Algerian Yahya Abu al-Hammam and Tunisian Abu Iyadh al-Tunisi. French and Malian armies reported Koufa died in this raid also.