Malian justice announced on Tuesday evening, November 28, the opening of an investigation targeting local leaders of Al-Qaeda, including Iyad Ag Ghaly and Tuareg separatists for, among other things, “acts of terrorism, financing of terrorism and illegal detention of ‘weapons of war’, in a context of deteriorating security in the north of the country.

Iyad Ag Ghaly, leader in Mali of the Support Group for Islam and Muslims (GSIM), a jihadist alliance affiliated with Al-Qaeda, appears with Fulani preacher Amadou Barry alias Amadou Kouffa, leader of the katiba Macina, belonging to the same movement, on the list of jihadists cited in the press release from the prosecutor of the Bamako Court of Appeal sent to AFP.

Other jihadists, notably Housseine Ould Ghoulan and Achafagui Ag Bouhada, are also mentioned in the text which also lists six Tuareg separatist leaders whose movement has taken up arms again against the Malian central state, despite the signing of a peace agreement with Bamako in 2015 in Algiers. They are Alghabass Ag Intalla, Bilal Ag Acherif, Ibrahim Ould Handa, Fahad Ag Almahmoud, Hanoune Ould Ali and Mohamed Ag Najim, leaders of an alliance of predominantly Tuareg armed groups.

“The attorney general at the Bamako Court of Appeal (…) instructed the public prosecutor of the judicial center specializing in the fight against terrorism and transnational organized crime to open an investigation against the terrorist leaders but also other members who signed the 2015 peace agreement and “have turned to terrorism,” the statement said. The investigation aims to enable the alleged perpetrators of these acts and their “accomplices to answer for their actions before the courts”, according to this press release.

Race for territory control

According to the prosecution, “the exploitation of information” which reached it reveals “the constitution between certain individuals of an association with the aim of sowing terror, of undermining national unity, territorial integrity and to tarnish the image” of the Malian army.

He cites “extremely serious facts” which “are likely to constitute alleged offenses of criminal associations, acts of terrorism, money laundering and financing of terrorism, illegal possession of weapons of war and ammunition and complicity in these same facts”. Such “actions”, according to him, “are likely to cause civilian and military victims”.

Since 2012, Mali has been plagued by the actions of groups affiliated with Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State organization, violence by proclaimed self-defense groups and banditry. The security crisis is coupled with a profound humanitarian and political crisis.

The colonels who took the head of this country by force in August 2020 broke off historic military cooperation with France in 2022 and turned politically and militarily towards Russia.

Northern Mali in particular has been plagued by an intensification of military confrontations since August. The withdrawal of the United Nations mission (Minusma), pushed out by the ruling junta, triggered a race for control of the territory between the army, jihadists and separatists who have taken up arms again against the State central.