Mayhem in Mali: A Militant Leadership Monitor Special Report

In this Quarterly Special Report (QSR) on Mayhem in Mali, we focus on the various Islamist fighters who have taken over northern Mali. The QSR includes profiles of important personalities in the Sahel region such as Abou Zeid, a brutal, committed and resilient militant under whose leadership AQIM has become extremely realist and results-oriented. A portrait is also provided of former AQIM leader Mokhtar Belmokhtar whose strong knowledge of the territory and connections with local gangs have allowed him to play a prominent role in the region. Another sketch in the QSR is of AQIM’s new Saharan amir Jemal Oukacha whose appointment can be seen as an attempt by the Boumerdes-based leadership to reassert their authority in the wild Sahara/Sahel sector. A snapshot of  the commander of MUJWA’s Osama bin Laden brigade, Ahmad al-Tilemsi, is included along with description of MUJWA’s split from AQIM, which occurred under his leadership in 2011. The concluding profile is of veteran Tuareg rebel Iyad ag Ghali, the head of Ansar al-Din a religiously-oriented armed group.

We focus not only on the leadership of the West African states and African Union in tackling the problem but also on the lack of resolve by all parties involved in the military intervention and the interrelated assembling of Islamist and Tuareg rebel forces.