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 Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin

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Also known as: JNIM, Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims; Nusrat al-Islam; Ansar al-Din; Ansar Dine; al-Murabitun; al-Murabitoun; al-Mulathamun Battalion; al-Moulathamoun Battalion; the Sentinels; Sahara Emirate; Macina Liberation Front; Katibat Macina; Force de Libération du Macina.​​​​​

The following information is based on publicly available information about Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM). To the Australian Government's knowledge, this information is accurate, reliable and has been corroborated by classified information.​​

Basis for listing a terrorist organisation​​​

Division 102 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 provides that for an organisation to be listed as a terrorist organisation, the AFP Minister must be satisfied on reasonable grounds that the organisation:​​

  • is directly or indirectly engaged in, preparing, planning, or assisting in or fostering the doing of a terrorist act or
  • advocates the doing of a terrorist act.​​

For the purposes of listing a terrorist organisation under the Criminal Code, the doing of a terrorist act includes the doing of a specific terrorist act, the doing of more than one terrorist act and the doing of a terrorist act, even if a terrorist act does not occur.​​

Background to this listing​​

The Australian Government has not previously proscribed JNIM as a terrorist organisation. Al-Murabitun (since merged into JNIM) was listed on 5 November 2014, and re-listed on 3 November 2017 and 3 November 2020 (under JNIM).

Terrorist activity of the organisation

Objectives

JNIM is a Sunni Islamist extremist organisation based in Mali and active in West Africa. Its declared aims are to incite Muslims to oppose oppression and expel foreign and non-Muslim occupying powers – including through violence – and implement Islamic governance. The group’s leader has declared JNIM’s ultimate enemy to be ‘the enemy of the Muslims from among the Jews and the Christians’, and identified France and Western countries assisting France as more immediate adversaries.

JNIM has undertaken the following to advance its ideology and achieve its objectives:

Directly or indirectly engaged in preparing, planning, assisting in or fostering the doing of terrorist acts

JNIM has engaged in terrorist acts in Mali and neighbouring countries. Significant attacks for which JNIM has claimed responsibility, and is assessed to have undertaken, include:

  • 6 April 2020: JNIM attached a Malian military base in Bamba, Mali, killing over 20 soldiers.
  • 20 January 2019: JNIM attacked a United Nations base in Aguelhok, Mali, killing ten peacekeepers and wounding around 25 others.
  • 29 June 2018: JNIM conducted a suicide car bomb, rocket and armed attack against the Malian headquarters of Sahel GF Joint Force in Sevare, Mali, killing two soldiers.
  • 18 June 2017: JNIM gunmen attacked a resort popular with foreigners near Bamako, Mali, killing five people.

Details of the organisation

JNIM was created on 2 March 2017, when three al-Qa’ida-aligned-groups – Ansar al-Din, al-Murabitun and the Sahara Emirate subgroup of al-Qa’ida in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) – announced they had merged into one entity under one emir, formalising the longstanding alliance between the member groups. The merger also included the Macina Liberation Front, an affiliate of Ansar al-Din at that time. During the announcement, the leader of JNIM, Iyad ag Ghali, renewed the groups’ pledges of allegiance to the emir of AQIM, the emir of al-Qa’ida, and to the leader of the Taliban.

Leadership

Iyad ag Ghali has led JNIM since its formation in 2017. In accordance with its pledges of allegiance, JNIM is under the command of AQIM and al-Qa’ida core. However, it retains some operational autonomy, as do its subgroups, which have their own commanders and operate in different regions of northern and central Mali and neighbouring regions.

Membership

JNIM’s total membership is estimated at 1,000 to 2,000 fighters.

Recruitment and funding

JNIM exploits poor governance, economic and social conditions in northern and central Mali and neighbouring regions to attract members. It uses issues such as ethnic and social divisions, insecurity, and dissatisfaction with government oppression, corruption and inability to provide services as avenues for recruitment. JNIM funds itself through kidnap-for-ransom operations, extortion and taxation of locals, smugglers and traffickers.

Links to other terrorist organisations

JNIM is affiliated with, and under the command of, al-Qa’ida and AQIM. JNIM has also cooperated with Islamic State affiliate Islamic State of the Greater Sahara, which separated from al-Murabitun in 2015.

Threats to Australian interests

JNIM has not made statements specifically threatening Australians or Australian interests, but it has issued statements threatening Westerners and Western interests in general, and has attacked locations known to be frequented by Westerners. JNIM is unlikely to differentiate Australians from the citizens of other Western countries.

Listed by the United Nations or like-minded countries

The United Nations Security Council includes JNIM in the ISIL (Da’esh) and al-Qa’ida Sanctions List. JNIM was designated as a foreign terrorist organisation by the United States in 2018, and was listed as a proscribed terrorist organisation by the United Kingdom in 2019.

Engagement in peace or mediation processes

JNIM is not involved in any peace or mediation processes.

Conclusion

On the basis of the above information, the Australian Government assesses that JNIM is directly or indirectly engaged in, preparing, planning, assisting in or fostering the doing of terrorist acts, involving threats to human life and serious damage to property.

In the course of pursuing its objectives, JNIM is known to have committed actions that:

  • cause, or could cause, death, serious harm to persons, serious damage to property, endanger life (other than the life of the person taking the action), or create a serious risk to the health or safety of the public or a section of the public
  • are intended to have those effects
  • are done with the intention of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause and
  • are done with the intention of:
    • coercing, or influencing through intimidation, the government of one or more countries or
    • intimidating the public or a section of the public.​​​​​​​​​​
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