Mali: Terrorism Report 

Background: The Northern Mali Conflict 

On 16 January 2012, several insurgent groups began fighting a campaign against the Malian government for independence and greater autonomy for northern Mali, an area known as Azawad. The National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), an organization fighting to make Azawad an independent homeland for the Tuareg people, had taken control of the region in April 2012. They were assisted by Al-Qaeda (AQ) through its branch in Sub-Sahara Africa: Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), formally known as Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC). With AQIM came splinter organizations that take orders from AQ: Ansar Dine, Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJWO), and Al-Mulathameen  (“Those who Sign with Blood”). The partnership between AQIM and the MNLA would not last long as the Islamic Terror Groups had plans for the state of Azawad–they wanted to form an Islamic State.

In January 2013, France led Operation Serval, with the assistance of ECOWAS. It was an intervention, to repel the advance of the MNLA and Islamic Terror Groups (ITGs). The operation was successful in stopping and pushing back the MNLA & ITGs. From here, Mali would enter its insurgency phase of the conflict. Realizing defeat, the MNLA, withdrew from the fighting. At this time, MNLA was also involved in a number of clashes with ITGs.

AQIM and its affiliates withdrew its fighting forces to the border areas of Mali. The ITGs would switch to typical insurgency tactics; ITGs began to focus their campaign on hit and runs, ambushes, kidnapping and raids on soft targets.

  • Languages spoken in Mali:
    Bambara “Bamanankan” 80%
    French 21%
  • Official currency: West African CFA franc
  • Capital: Bamako
  • Land Size: 1,240,000 square kilometres / (480,000 sq mi)
  • Population: 17.99 million (2016) World Bank
  • Religion: 90% “Islam”/ 5% “Christianity”/ 5% “indigenous”
  • Current President 2017: Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta
  • Time zone: GMT (UTC+0)
  • Calling code: +223
  • Independence: from France 20 June 1960 as Mali 22 September 1960

Other Non-State Actors:

Below lies a list of non-state actors operating in Mali: