Mali: JNIM commander Bah Ag Moussa added to US designated terrorist list

The United States on Tuesday, July 16 added Malian militant commander Bah Ag Moussa to the specially designated terrorist list, as part of wider efforts to target the al-Qaeda affiliate Support Group for Islam and Muslims (JNIM).

Moussa, “was designated for acting for or on behalf of JNIM and Iyad ag Ghali,” the U.S. Treasury Department said in a Tuesday statement that also announced the addition of a JNIM senior leader, Ali Maychou, to the Specially Designated Global Terrorist list.

JNIM formed in March 2017, when several smaller groups including the Sahara branch of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Ansar Dine and Al-Mourabitoun merged. JNIM’s leadership under Iyad Ag Ghaly has pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.

“As a leader within JNIM, Bah Ag Moussa directly contributes to the violence and instability fueled by al-Qa’ida’s terrorism,” Treasury Under Secretary Sigal Mandelker said.

The SDGT designation blocks all of Moussa and Maychou’s assets that are in the U.S. or under control of U.S. persons. It is unclear whether either man has assets under U.S. jurisdiction.

The State Department in a statement described Maychou as a leader in JNIM since its inception and said he previously “previously claimed responsibility for an attack on a military camp that housed Malian Armed Forces in Gao, Mali, that killed dozens; and has had a role in operational activities of JNIM.”

The U.S. sanctioned JNIM in September 2018.

Moussa is a former Colonel who deserted the Armed Forces of Mali (FAMa) to join armed terrorist groups, and is responsible for leading attacks in several other localities in northern Mali, the Treasury Department said.

In March, the FAMa blamed Moussa for a raid at an army camp in Mali’s Mopti region that killed at least 23 soldiers.

While JNIM later said it was behind the assault, it denied “the commander Abah Moussa” carried out the attack, saying it was led by Amadou Koufa, head of the jihadist group Katiba Macina, which is part of JNIM.

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