Back to list icon

Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM)

( AS OF OCTOBER 2022 )


JNIM flag
JNIM flag

Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM) is a terrorist group based in Mali and active across much of West Africa, including parts of Burkina Faso and Niger. It formed in March 2017, when four Mali-based extremist groups—Ansar al-Din, al-Murabitun, the Macina Liberation Front (MLF), and the Sahara Emirate subgroup of al-Qa‘ida in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM)—announced that they had merged, formalizing cooperation among them. The leader of JNIM, Iyad ag Ghali, pledged the group’s allegiance to the amir of AQIM, to the amir of al-Qa‘ida, and to the leader of the Taliban.

JNIM is a Salafi-Jihadist organization that aligns itself with al-Qa‘ida’s global jihadist ideology and exploits local divisions and grievances to grow its support in the region. The group seeks to build a Salafi-Islamist state in West Africa and to expel Western influences from the region. Ghali has stated that JNIM’s strategy is to expand its presence across West Africa and train militants to fight against the group’s enemies while appeasing local communities by giving them material resources and signing local agreements. JNIM regularly attacks French, multinational, and local security forces in West Africa, as well as local and foreign civilians in the region.

JNIM exploits a lack of economic opportunities as well as ethnic and social divisions among the populace in northern and central Mali and neighboring regions to facilitate recruitment and build its influence. It funds itself by ransoming captives, taxing locals, smuggling weapons, and extorting human and drug traffickers.

The US State Department designated JNIM as a foreign terrorist organization in 2018. In 2013 the US designated Ghali as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist.


Iyad ag Ghali

Iyad ag Ghali
Amir; has led the group since its formation

Amadou Kouffa

Amadou Kouffa
A deputy to Ghali; founding member of JNIM; founder and amir of MLF

Qutaybah Abu

Qutaybah Abu al-Numan al-Shanqiti
Sharia judge; provides religious guidance in official JNIM and AQIM media


2 March 2018

French Embassy and Burkinabe Army Headquarters in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso

A coordinated VBIED and ground assault kills eight security personnel and wounds 80 people, including civilians.

14 April 2018

UN base near Timbuktu Airport, Mali

A complex attack using rockets, mortars, VBIEDs, and attackers disguised as UN peacekeepers kills one peacekeeper and wounds 17.

30 June 2018

Malian headquarters of the G5 Sahel Joint Force in Sevare, Mali

A suicide bombing kills two soldiers and one civilian.

30 September 2019

Two Burkinabe military camps in northern Burkina Faso

Near-simultaneous small-arms attacks, possibly with help from Ansoural Islam fighters, kill at least 25 Burkinabe soldiers.

19 March 2020

Malian army base in Tarkint, Mali

A small-arms attack kills at least 29 Malian soldiers and injures five.

22 July 2022

Kati Military Garrison

A VBIED and small-arms attack on a military garrison near Bamako, where the transition President and other army officers reside, destroys several vehicles.