Malian al Qaeda affiliate leaders on US terror list

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The United States added two leaders of al Qaeda’s affiliate in Mali to its global terrorism list, accusing them of destabilising attacks across the West African country, the US Treasury said.

Ali Maychou and Bah Ag Moussa, leaders of Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin, were designated global terrorists by the US Treasury and placed on a list of people whose assets in the United States can be blocked, the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control said.

“Treasury is targeting the leadership of JNIM, al Qaeda’s branch in Mali, for its destabilising role conducting terrorist attacks across the country,” Treasury Undersecretary Sigal Mandelker said in a statement. “As a leader in JNIM, Bah Ag Moussa directly contributes to the violence and instability fuelled by al Qaeda’s terrorism.”

The Treasury added Moussa to its sanctions list because he acted on behalf of JNIM and its leader, Iyad ag Ghali. Both JNIM and Ghali were previously added to the sanctions list.

Moussa, a former Malian army colonel, led an operation in March against a Malian Armed Forces base in Dioura that killed at least 21 Malian soldiers.

The US State Department said Maychou, a native of Morocco, claimed responsibility for a JNIM attack on a military camp housing Malian troops in Gao, killing dozens. It said Maychou had an operational role in JNIM’s activities.

JNIM claimed responsibility for an attack in January that killed 10 United Nations peacekeepers from Chad. The attack was apparently a response to the Chadian president’s decision to revive diplomatic ties with Israel.