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Al-Qaida's focus is shifting from Maghreb to Sahel

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Significance

Under Droukdel's leadership, AQIM exerted influence among jihadist groups in North and West Africa and provided expertise and funds that facilitated high-profile terrorist attacks and kidnappings. AQIM has yet to announce a successor, but after 13 years its structure is probably resilient enough to survive the death of its leader. In the Sahel, AQIM has been somewhat eclipsed by the Group for Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM), an al-Qaida affiliate with a presence in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger.

Impacts

  • JNIM poses a greater threat than AQIM to Sahelian countries.
  • AQIM's residual presence in Algeria, Tunisia and Libya is not an immediate threat, but means it may be able to exploit future cleavages.
  • The threat to the oil sector will continue to decline owing to a shift in the focus of attacks from the Maghreb to the Sahel.
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