Abstract: Since last year, jihadi attacks in northern Burkina Faso have been steadily on the rise. These have largely been attributable to a newly established but understudied jihadi group, Ansaroul Islam, which has its roots in the ongoing insurgency in Mali and is linked to al-Qa`ida’s network in the Sahel. Its budding insurgency greatly threatens the security of Burkina Faso and neighboring countries. State responses to the violence have been heavy-handed, which only furthers the cause of Ansaroul Islam.
On the evening of December 15, 2016, a group of around 30 heavily armed gunmen came from the area of Mondoro in Mali and arrived in the village of Bouroubouta, just across the border in neighboring Burkina Faso.1 Early the following morning, the group set out, steering across the hinterland in the direction of Nassoumbou, a locality harboring a camp of the combined Burkinabe army and gendarmerie counterterrorism task force GFAT (Groupement des Forces Anti-Terroristes).2 a
Before the first morning prayer, the militants launched an assault on the camp. Although the defending forces attempted to hit back, the jihadis overpowered the government forces, killing 12 soldiers. Several military vehicles, including a French-produced ACMAT Bastion armored vehicle, were destroyed. The militants pillaged the camp, seizing two vehicles, several arms, ammunition, uniforms, and other military materiel, before withdrawing toward the Mali border.
The jihadis returned to their base in the Foulsaré forest before announcing themselves to the world as Ansaroul Islam.3 bIt was the first native jihadi group founded in Burkina Faso.4 The group, which the authors will argue is aligned with al-Qa`ida, was designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department in February 2017.5
Ansaroul Islam’s first attack in Burkina Faso—so far, the largest by the nascent insurgency in the northern regions near the border with Mali—was a turning point in jihadi operations in the country. Although jihadis, especially those linked to al-Qa`ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), have long operated in Burkina Faso and have recruited among various communities there as well as carrying out sporadic kidnapping operations near the Malian border in the north, jihadi attacks against civilians and Burkinabe security forces only began in earnest in 2017.
These attacks have largely been linked by local residents and officials to Ansaroul Islam,6 which has been able to exploit weak security near the Mali border to build up its operations. This article first outlines the jihadi currents in Burkina Faso and the wider region, which led to the group’s founding. It then examines the tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) used by the group, before assessing the regional security implications of rising jihadi violence in Burkina Faso.
Destabilization of Burkina Faso
In the fall of 2014, a series of events shook Burkina Faso that paved the way for the jihadi insurgency in the north of the country. The then president, Blaise Compaoré, attempted to amend the constitution ahead of the 2015 presidential elections in order to extend his 27-year rule7—sparking a popular uprising that forced Compaoré to resign and flee to neighboring Ivory Coast. The events that followed included a further destabilizing power struggle,8 which led to the disbandment of the autonomous Regiment of Presidential Security (RSP), the secret service of the Compaoré regime.
The Compaoré regime was an important regional ally and military partner of France, which since 2010 has had special forces stationed in the capital, Ouagadougou.9 Burkina Faso was also one of the first countries to support the French intervention in Mali in 2013, contributing troops to the African-led International Support Mission to Mali (AFISMA).10 Nevertheless, the regime maintained what appeared to be strong lines of communication with jihadis in the region and played a significant role in several hostage releases.c
Burkina Faso did not experience any attacks attributed to jihadi groups until after the fall of the Compaoré regime. In April 2015, six months after the downfall of the Compaoré regime, jihadis abducted a Romanian security guard, Iulian Ghergut, at the manganese mining site in Tambao.11 Several months later, jihadis carried out an armed assault in Samoroguan in October 2015.12 It was the first attack of its kind in the country and notably took place just two weeks after the disbandment of the RSP.
While Burkina Faso did not endure attacks during Compaoré’s regime, parts of its territory served as a recruitment ground and logistics hub for jihadis in the Sahel region. In the early 2010s, AQIM and its allies made several attempts to establish a more permanent presence in Burkina Faso and on its borders.d
In the wake of the France-led military intervention in Mali in 2013, the jihadis were ousted from major towns in the north previously under their control. As the French intervention changed to a counterterrorism mission (Operation Barkhane), the commanders of the al-Qa`ida groups gravitated to areas in central and southern Mali and near the borders with Burkina Faso. Most of these commanders were members of AQIM and its front group Ansar Dine.13
Two senior leaders—Souleymane Keita and Yacouba Touré—created the Ansar Dine katiba (brigade) Khalid Ibn al-Walid, which was also known as Ansar Dine Sud.14 The katiba established a base in the Sama Forest in the Sikasso Region, close to the borders with Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso. However, the group was short lived and only managed to conduct two attacks against Malian gendarmerie positions in the villages of Misseni15 and Fakola16 in mid-2015. The Khalid Ibn al-Walid brigade was quickly dismantled by the Malian army,17 and both Keita18 and Touré19 were arrested.
Ansar Dine also created a branch to operate in Burkina Faso. Boubacar Sawadogo,e a Burkinabe and associate of Keita and Touré, was responsible for the creation of this wing, which can be seen as a predecessor of Ansaroul Islam. It was Sawadogo’s group who carried out the October 2015 attack against the gendarmerie in Samoroguan.20 Sawadogo, like his associates Keita and Touré, was eventually arrested.21
In addition to its recruitment efforts, al-Qa`ida has been able to conduct several attacks inside Burkina Faso since 2015. This includes the aforementioned kidnapping of a Romanian security guard, as well as the kidnapping of an Australian couple in January 2016.22 The same day of the couple’s kidnapping, gunmen belonging to AQIMf carried out a large-scale terrorist attack in Ouagadougou, killing at least 30 people at the Splendid Hotel and a café popular with foreigners.23 In August 2017, at least 18 were killed at a Turkish restaurant in Ouagadougou popular with expats in another terrorist attack.24 While no group has claimed the assault yet, it is widely suspected to have been carried out by al-Qa`ida-aligned jihadis.
Earlier this month, The Group for Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM)g claimed another major terrorist attack in Ouagadougou. On March 2, jihadis simultaneously targeted the French embassy and the Burkinabe army headquarters. The assault utilized a suicide car bomb and seven gunmen, which initially left at least eight people dead and more than 80 others wounded.25 It is, so far, JNIM’s most brazen terrorist attack.
A notable difference between the March 2 attacks and previous ones in Ouagadougou is that the choice in targets were ‘hard targets’ (high-profile locations with large security details) rather than ‘soft targets.’ Additionally, one striking coincidence is that the latest attacks came on the first anniversary of the announcement of JNIM, which may have also factored into the group’s rationale for launching the attack.
The investigation into the attack is still in its early stages. However, this is the first high-profile attack in Burkina Faso that points to a significant involvement of Burkinabes. At least eight local individuals have been arrested, including two active soldiers and one former soldier.26 Although the results of the investigation have yet to be seen, they appear to point to JNIM having established a local support network that possibly includes members of Burkina’s armed forces. This adds additional implications for future terrorist attacks inside the Burkinabe capital.
Image captured from Ansaroul Islam video showing Ansaroul Islam militants in northern Burkina Faso, date unknown. (Video obtained by Héni Nsaibia from source in Mali.)
Jihad in Mali
After the French military intervention in Mali and the deployment of a United Nations peacekeeping mission, the jihadi insurgency in Mali was largely confined to its northern regions. AQIM, its local front group Ansar Dine,27 and MUJAOh routinely mounted assaults on French and U.N. peacekeepers. From 2015, the violence spread southward. According to data compiled for the Long War Journal, there were at least 30 notable attacks in central and southern Mali in 2015. The following year, there were 51.28 And in 2017, there were at least 90 attacks in central and southern Mali.29 i
Several katibas of Ansar Dine are largely responsible for the rising number of attacks in central and southern Mali. This includes the aforementioned Khalid Ibn al-Walid brigade, the Sèrma brigade, and perhaps most notably, the Macina battalion. The latter, which is also known as the Macina Liberation Front, has been the most operationally active southern branch of Ansar Dine. It has conducted the majority of attacks in central and southern Mali and has been linked to abuses and other crimes against the civilian populations.30
Concurrently, the rise in violence in northern Burkina Faso has been directly correlated to the growing violence in central and southern Mali. As the jihadis began to move southward into the regions closer to the Burkina Faso border,j more operating space was made for cross-border raids into neighboring Burkina. The jihadis made use of several forested areas and the largely unprotected borders to their advantage. And they had new opportunities to train and facilitate the growth of a local Burkinabe jihadi faction.
This map shows fatalities as the result of militancy and counter-militancy operations in Burkina Faso between 2015-2018 (as of March 2, 2018) as per the dataset compiled by the authors. Separately, the graph shows fatalities by year due to militancy and counter-militancy operations for the same period, while the box graph shows the distribution of Ansaroul Islam attacks between targets. (See TTPs of Ansaroul Islam.) Note: The key applies only to the box graph.
The Birth of Ansaroul Islam
Although Ansaroul Islam is largely focused in Burkina Faso, its roots are deeply embedded in the conflict in Mali. The group was founded by Boureima Dicko (a deceased Burkinabe jihadi who was also known as Malam Ibrahim Dicko)k who was a close ally of Amadou Kouffa, the leader of the aforementioned Macina battalion of Ansar Dine (which is now within the Mali-based al-Qa`ida umbrella group JNIM31). In posts made on its former Facebook page, Ansaroul Islam confirmed that Dicko had met with Kouffa in the past.32 l One post also mentioned that Dicko and Kouffa were together in central Mali, further showing the links between the two.33 According to a defector from Ansaroul Islam, Kouffa played a large role in the creation of Ansaroul Islam.34
According to a report in Jeune Afrique, Dicko tried to join jihadi groups in northern Mali in 2013, but was arrested by French forces in Tessalit and subsequently released in 2015.35 In mid-2017, Dicko died of reported natural causes and was replaced by his brother Jafar, according to Le Monde.36 Citing the aforementioned defector, the French newspaper reported that Ansaroul Islam contains around 200 members and is largely based in the surroundings of the villages Boulkessi and N’Daki, Mali. This base has allowed Ansaroul Islam to take part in operations in both Burkina Faso and in Mali.37 m The fact that Ansaroul Islam has carried out attacks on the Mali side of the border is further evidence the group has very close ties with JNIM.
In March 2017, JNIM claimed credit for an assault on Malian troops near the town of Boulkessi. According to many reports, Ansaroul Islam also took part in the assault. Over the course of 2017, JNIM claimed credit for six attacks in Burkina Faso.38 In many of these, local reporting indicated that Ansaroul Islam was either responsible for or had taken part in the operation.39
Further illustrating the close relationship between Ansaroul Islam and JNIM, there have been documented cases of JNIM sending operatives to train Ansaroul Islam in various tactics. One such operative was a Mauritanian named Abu Bakr al-Shinquiti, a senior AQIM commander who sat on the Sahara Emirate’sn Shura Council.40 In early 2015, al-Shinquiti was dispatched by senior AQIM leaders to the Gondo plain in Douentza, Mali, where he reportedly trained members of what would become Ansar Dine’s Sèrma Brigade,41 o as well as future members of Ansaroul Islam. While al-Shinquiti died around a year later,42 he was instrumental in recruiting, training, equipping, and transferring militant tradecraft to and for the group that would announce itself as Ansaroul Islam. Not long after al-Shinquiti’s death, Ansaroul Islam and the Sèrma brigade jointly conducted the aforementioned attack in Nassoumbou and thus began the jihadi insurgency in northern Burkina Faso.43
Ansaroul Islam is primarily made up of recruits from the Fulani and Rimaibé ethnic groupings, with Rimaibé in the majority. However, Ansaroul Islam is not an ethnic-based group and also includes members from the Mossi, Bellah (Black Tamasheq), Dogons, and Songhai communities.44 Ansaroul Islam founder Dicko was able to challenge long-established and prevailing hegemony of the traditional aristocracy represented by customary chiefs and marabout familiesp through sermons focused on equality and brotherhood and questioning the stratification of nobles, clerics, and serfs—in particular the subdivisions within Soum’s majority ethnic group, the Fulani.q This discourse and rhetoric allowed Dicko to gain popularity and followers, especially among the Rimaibé.45
TTPs of Ansaroul Islam
Ansaroul Islam has carried out at least 78 attacks in northern Burkina Faso since December 2016, according to a dataset compiled from open-sources by the authors, which provides a picture of the group’s TTPs. The group’s primary targets are civilians and civilian infrastructure. This includes kidnappings, assaults, and assassinations of local elders, mayors, or other prominent civilians across the Sahel region. Administrative buildings, houses, and schools have also been burned down by Ansaroul Islam militants.
At least 30 attacks targeted defense and security forces and members of self-defense groups,r which resulted in at least 40 fatalities. IEDs were used in five of these attacks. Ansaroul Islam members also carried out 35 targeted killings, assassination attempts, and abductions that resulted in 45 fatalities. At least 11 of the individuals killed were notables, including village chiefs, local councilmen, imams, and marabouts. Education and government infrastructure was targeted on at least 13 occasions, 12 of these attacks targeted schools. However, the group has threatened civil servants, including teachers, mayors, judges and court officers, on a much larger scale, but were not added to the overall count as these were only threats of violence.
Ansaroul Islam has also routinely targeted Burkinabe security forces, including the regular military, police officers, and gendarmerie personnel. A large portion of these assaults have been against fixed positions such as checkpoints and buildings. However, Burkinabe patrols have also been the focus of its attacks.
Ansaroul Islam is more than just a terrorist group. It has acted as a self-defense group, protecting communities from whom it enjoys support,46 as well as herders and livestock in a region where banditry, cattle rustling, and intercommunal violence is rife. At the same time, the group itself engages in activities such as localized robberies and cattle rustling.47 The group’s involvement in both terrorist activity and banditry means that it is best described as a hybrid terrorist-criminal group. The group’s second in command and military commander, Oumarou Boly, was himself a highwayman. That said, the group’s terror agendas have so far outweighed its criminal agendas.
Ansaroul Islam’s strategy, much like its allies in Mali, is not apparently focused on holding territory currently. After its attacks or assaults, it quickly disperses from the scene. In some instances, it has looted or taken war spoils from its targets before withdrawing.
In addition, the group has mostly used small arms in its attacks, according to local media reporting, although last year it began using improvised explosive devices (IEDs) against Burkinabe security forces.48 The first IED attack ever recorded in Burkina Faso occurred on August 17, 2017, killing three Burkinabe counterterrorism soldiers.49 Over the course of the rest of the year, the group carried out four more IED attacks. The group’s increasing use of IEDs is likely a product of JNIM’s provision of assistance and training.s The IED tradecraft obtained by Ansaroul Islam was most likely transferred by the Sèrma Brigade, with which Ansaroul Islam shares operational linkages and closeness in terms of areas of operations, but also due to the Sèrma Brigade’s prolific deployment of IEDs in central Mali.50
Ansaroul Islam also appears to have carried out its first IED attack in Mali. On April 3, 2017, two young shepherds were killed by the explosion of an IED while herding their animals in the forest near the village of Moungnoukana.51 Two days later, French forces operating near the borders with Burkina Faso were subjected to a two-pronged attack by Ansaroul Islam militants.t First, the militants detonated an IED against a light armored vehicle, which wounded two soldiers, and then carried out an ambush that killed a soldier who was part of a unit that arrived to secure the perimeter of the first attack.52
Implications for Regional Security
Given that the group appears to be growing in capability, there is concern Ansaroul Islam’s campaign of violence will spread from the northernmost province of Soum to the provinces of Yatenga, Loroum, Kossi, Oudalan, and Bam. Sporadic attacks have already taken place within all these provinces. There is also concern that jihadis on both sides of the Mali-Burkina Faso border will also be able to utilize northern Burkina Faso as a rear base for attacks inside Mali.
Ansaroul Islam’s violence will also likely impact France’s Operation Barkhane, requiring French Special Forces to further expand their joint and unilateral operations, including possibly inside Burkina Faso’s borders. French Special Forces have been operating near the border with Burkina Faso since early 2017.53 In April and May 2017, these French forces conducted “Panga” and “Bayard,” respectively. The former was a joint operation carried out in conjunction with Malian and Burkinabe forces and was limited in its success.54 The intelligence gathered paved way for the unilateral multi-pronged operation Bayard a month later,55 which had long-lasting effects on Ansaroul Islam’s tactical calculus.u
The emergence of an Ansaroul Islam network inside Burkina Faso also permits al-Qa`ida’s regional networks more operating space inside the country, allowing for greater recruitment as well as possibly more opportunities to conduct additional large-scale terrorist attacks. There is also the potential the Burkina Faso’s government response to the nascent insurgency, which some have accused of being heavy-handed,56 may also drive people to join the jihadi cause.
State Responses and Their Implications
Burkina Faso is currently the largest contributor of troops to the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). With 1,886 personnel deployed, this accounts for roughly one-fourth of the country’s defense forces.57 But it is questionable how sustainable this overseas deployment will be given the increasingly pressing security needs in northern Burkina Faso. As late as on February 11, 2018, the local police closed down and evacuated the police station in Déou, Oudalan Province, fearing retaliation for the killing of an assailant while repelling an attack a week earlier.58 The recently appointed Minister of Security Clément Sawadogo referred to the events in Déou as a “tactical withdrawal.”59 v
The response by security forces have caused a local crisis in Burkina’s Sahel region. Internally displaced persons (IDPs) have steadily risen as the security forces have cracked down on jihadis. As of February 2018, over 23,000 people have been displaced,60 some forced out of their homes by security forces in the name of fighting back against Ansaroul Islam.61 There are allegations that in the months since late 2017, Burkinabe security forces have carried out extrajudicial killings of civilians as part of their efforts to root out militants. The past two years, an estimated 2,000 Burkinabes have been scattered around Gossi, in the Tombouctou Region of Mali.62 w
The local Fulani population, much like across the Sahel, appears to have borne the brunt of this state-sanctioned violence. Violence or crimes committed against the Fulani people are not just limited to Burkina Faso; this trend can be seen across the Sahel.63 The humanitarian situation in northern Burkina Faso is also alarming, as the conflict has created a sharp reduction in economic activity at the local markets. Access to the health and education system have also become extremely limited. As of February 2018, more than 10,000 students have been deprived from their education, and there are serious food shortages.64 Long a destination for refugees fleeing the conflict in Mali, the flow is now reversing out of Burkina Faso.65
The March 2 terrorist attacks in Ouagadougou was JNIM’s most brazen attack in the Sahel to date. The jihadi group justified its murderous actions by saying it was in response to French raids on its leadership, as well as joint French and Burkinabe military operations near the borders between Mali and Burkina Faso.66 The use of a suicide car bomb within the capital suggests JNIM maintains an effective support network in Ouagadougou. As Burkina Faso attempts to crackdown on jihadi activity within its borders and the situation deteriorates in the north, more terrorist attacks in the country, and especially in Ouagadougou, are likely to occur. CTC
Héni Nsaibia is the founder of the risk consultancy Menastream, where he also serves as an intelligence analyst. Additionally, he is a researcher at ACLED (The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project). Follow @Menastream
Caleb Weiss is a research analyst and contributor to FDD’s Long War Journal where he focuses on violent non-state actors in the Middle East and Africa with a special focus on al-Qa`ida and its branches. Follow @Weissenberg7
[a] GFAT was created in 2012 to counter the militant threat along Burkina Faso’s northern border with Mali.
[b] Ansaroul Islam is the Francophone transcription of Ansar al-Islam.
[c] Moreover, in 2012 French intelligence services indicated that weapons were transported by trucks to the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) via Burkina Faso. At the time, MUJAO controlled the northern Malian town of Gao, and northern Mali was under jihadi rule. With Diendéré as the Burkinabe intelligence chief, he undoubtedly knew that jihadi groups used Burkina Faso as a rear base and logistics hub. Rémi Carayol, “Amée burkinabè: Gilbert Diendéré, la discrétion assurée,” Jeune Afrique, November 5, 2014.
[d] This was confirmed by Abu Talha al Libi, a Mauritanian leader within al-Qa`ida’s network in the Sahel who is also known as al-Mauritani and al-Azawadi, in a 2012 Al Jazeera documentary from jihadi-occupied northern Mali. “Orphans of the Sahara: Rebellion,” Al Jazeera, January 9, 2014.
[e] Boubacar Sawadogo is also known as Boubacar Mossi, a reference to the majority ethnic group in Burkina Faso to which he belongs.
[f] The attack was conducted by Al Murabitoon, which had merged into AQIM the previous month.
[g] JNIM was formed in March 2017 as a merger between AQIM’s Sahara branch, Ansar Dine, Al Murabitoon, and Katibat Macina. The group is led by Iyad Ag Ghaly and swears allegiance to al-Qa`ida leader Ayman al Zawahiri and AQIM leader Abdelmalek Droukdel.
[h] MUJAO is the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa.
[i] There were at least 117 attacks suspected to be carried out by jihadis in the three northern regions combined in 2017. Caleb Weiss, “Al Qaeda maintains operational tempo in West Africa in 2017,” FDD’s Long War Journal, January 5, 2018.
[j] This includes the central Mopti region, as well as part of the southern Sikasso region.
[k] Malam Ibrahim Dicko’s full name is Boureima Amadou Oumarou Issa Dicko.
[l] This was an unverified Facebook account presumably linked to Ansaroul Islam. According to Dicko’s former Qu’ranic school teacher, Dicko had indeed met with Kouffa in central Mali in what Dicko described as an effort to “finish his Qu’ranic studies” before returning to Burkina Faso. See “Sur les traces de Malam Ibrahim Dicko…” YouTube, June 13, 2017.
[m] JNIM media operative “Al-Andalusi” indicated on Telegram, with reference to Ansaroul Islam leader Ibrahim Dicko, that Ansaroul Islam carried out the attacks against French forces near Douna on April 5, 2017.
[n] AQIM’s Sahara Emirate was AQIM’s branch in the Sahel and specifically northern Mali.
[o] The group is referred to as the Sèrma Brigade because it uses the Sèrma forest, south of Boni, as a base and staging area. It is also known as Ansar Dine fil-Janub (Ansar Dine in the South), or Ansar Dine Janub al-Nahr (Ansar Dine South of the River), pointing to the areas where it operates south of the Niger River, specifically in the administrative subdivisions of Gourma-Rharous and Douentza. This group is not to be confused with the aforementioned Katiba Khalid Ibn al-Walid/Ansar Dine Sud.
[p] Marabout refers to Islamic scholars or leaders in North Africa and the Sahel.
[q] The Rimaibé are descendants of slaves, originally groups of the indigenous population subjugated and absorbed by the Fulani.
[r] These groups are known as Koglweogo, which refers to a structure of vigilante militias enjoying intermittent government support.
[s] In particular, the Sèrma Brigade with whom it has cooperated closely, therefore a distinctly possible source from where Ansaroul Islam obtained the tradecraft in the use of explosives.
[t] Despite JNIM claiming responsibility for the attack, a JNIM media operative later attributed it to Ansaroul Islam in a Telegram post about a month later with the following statement: “God preserve you in his keeping our honorable Sheikh Malam Ibrahim Dicko … and he/[God] made of you a fork in the throats of the French and their agents.” Menastream, “#BurkinaFaso: #AQIM/#JNIM-affiliated telegram channel honors #AnsaroulIslam leader Malam Ibrahim Dicko “God preserve you in his keeping..,” Twitter, May 13, 2017.
[u] After France’s Operation Bayard, Ansaroul Islam started to avoid larger gatherings in the Foulsaré forest and started to split into smaller cells and disperse along the borders.
[v] In November 2016, Burkina’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Alpha Barry, sounded the alarm by stating that the continued overseas deployment effort was not sustainable. The country had been subjected to around 20 attacks between April 2015 and October 2016, while being engaged in external operations. This came amidst talks between President Roch Kaboré, MINUSMA’s chief Mahamat Saleh Annadif, and the European Union’s Special Representative for the Sahel on a redeployment of Burkinabe peacekeepers stationed in Diabaly closer to Burkina’s borders. In July 2017, Burkina withdrew its peacekeepers from Darfur in order to strengthen its military presence in the Sahel Region. “Burkina withdraws peacekeepers from Darfur,” VOA Afrique, July 19, 2017.
[w] Testimonies gathered by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the National Commission in charge of Refugees in Mali (CNCR-Mali) state that “families say they run away for fear of persecution by the Burkinabe army and other armed groups.” Some people met reported arrests, threats, and other abuses resulting in the deaths of members of their communities. See Ludivine Laniepce “Burkina: réfugiés au Mali par peur de leur armée,” Ouest-France, February 1, 2018.
 Ndiaga Thiam, “Djibo, l’autre Kidal en devenir – Première partie,” YouTube, March, 11, 2017.
 “DECRET n°2012-925/PRES/PM/MDNAC du 30 novembre 2012 portant création d’un Groupement de Forces Antiterroriste.JO N° 09 DU 28 FEVRIER 2013,” President Du Conseil Des Ministres, November 30, 2012.
 Morgane Le Cam, “Burkina Faso: confessions d’un ancien djihadiste,” Monde, December 10, 2017.
 “State Department Designation of Ansarul Islam,” U.S. Department of State, February 20, 2018.
 “Terrorisme: 800 écoles fermées au nord depuis 2012 selon Nord Sud journal,” WAT FM, February 9, 2017; “Baraboulé et Tongomael : Les attaques revendiquées par le groupe terroriste de Malam Dicko,” Radio Omegafm Officiel, February 28, 2017; Youmali Ferdinand, Jr., “Attaques terroristes au Burkina: Barabule et Tongomael sous le coup de l’hydre djihadiste,” lefaso.net, February 28, 2017.
 Thomas Fessy, “How Burkina Faso’s Blaise Compaore sparked his own downfall,” BBC News, October 31, 2014.
 “Burkina Faso general takes over as Compaore resigns,” BBC News, November 1, 2014; “Burkina: le coup terminé, l’armée reste divisée,” AFP, September 28, 2015.
 “Les forces spéciales: des commandos prêts à tout,” Parisien, September 25, 2010.
 “Qui participe à l’opération Serval au Mali?” Monde, January 29, 2013.
 Benjamin Roger, “Burkina Faso: que sait-on de l’enlèvement d’un Roumain par Al-Mourabitoune?” Jeune Afrique, May 19, 2015.
 “Burkina Faso: une gendarmerie attaquée près de la frontière malienne,” RFI, October 9, 2015.
 “Mali. Arrestation du numéro deux du groupe djihadiste Ansar Dine,” Courrier International, May 9, 2016.
 Rémi Carayol, “Mali: Keïta et Koufa, l’inquiétant duo terroriste du Sud,” Jeune Afrique, December 3, 2015.
 “Première attaque jihadiste dans le sud du Mali,” RFI, June 11, 2015.
 “Mali: attaque de jihadistes dans le sud du pays,” RFI, June 28, 2015.
 “Opérations anti-jihadistes à la frontière entre le Mali et la Côte d’Ivoire,” RFI, July 2, 2015.
 Baba Ahmed, “Mali: comment la DGSE a arrêté Souleymane Keïta, l’émir d’Ansar Eddine du Sud,” Jeune Afrique, April 4, 2016.
 “Arrestation de l’un des principaux pourvoyeurs en logistique et armement des groupes djihadistes au sud du Mali,” VOA Afrique, May 8, 2016.
 “La lutte contre le terrorisme n’est pas une affaire de militaires,” Sidwaya, September 4, 2016.
 Benjamin Roger, “Mali: arrestation de Boubacar Sawadogo, lieutenant burkinabè d’Ansar Eddine sud,” Jeune Afrique, July 19, 2016.
 Caleb Weiss, “AQIM takes Australian couple hostage in northern Burkina Faso,” FDD’s Long War Journal, January 16, 2016.
 Caleb Weiss, “Al Qaeda attacks hotel in Burkina Faso,” FDD’s Long War Journal, January 15, 2016; Andrew Lebovich, “The Hotel Attacks and Militant Realignment in the Sahara-Sahel Region,” CTC Sentinel 9:1 (2016).
 Caleb Weiss, “Jihadists strike across West Africa,” FDD’s Long War Journal, August 15, 2017.
 Caleb Weiss, “Al Qaeda branch in Mali claims Burkina Faso attacks,” FDD’s Long War Journal, March 3, 2018.
 Nadoun Coulibaly, “Attentats à Ouagadougou: huit personnes interpellées, le scénario de l’attaque se précise,” Jeune Afrique, March 6, 2018.
 Thomas Joscelyn, “Analysis: Al Qaeda groups reorganize in West Africa,” FDD’s Long War Journal, March 13, 2017.
 Caleb Weiss, “Al Qaeda linked to more than 250 West African attacks in 2016,” FDD’s Long War Journal, January 7, 2017.
 Caleb Weiss, “Al Qaeda maintains operational tempo in West Africa in 2017,” FDD’s Long War Journal, January 5, 2018.
 “Mali: Abuses Spread South,” Human Rights Watch, February 19, 2016.
 Héni Nsaibia, “Jihadist Groups in the Sahel Region. Formalize Merger,” Jihadology, March 27, 2017.
 Héni Nsaibia, “Burkina Faso: The jihadist threat continuously rising in the far north – a new Ansar Dine gestation, Ansaroul Islam?” Menastream, January 3, 2017.
 Le Cam.
 Rémi Carayol, “Mali: dans la région de Mopti, ‘l’État ne contrôle plus rien,’” Jeune Afrique, December 14, 2016.
 Seidik Abba, “Jafar Dicko, le nouveau visage du djihadisme au Burkina Faso,” Monde, December 21, 2017.
 Héni Nsaibia, “#BurkinaFaso: #AQIM/#JNIM-affiliated telegram channel honors #AnsaroulIslam leader Malam Ibrahim Dicko God preserve you in his keeping..our honorable Sheikh Malam Ibrahim Dicko..and he/[God] made of you a fork in the throats of the French and their agents,” Twitter, May 13, 2017; “Mali-Burkina Faso: Une vaste opération de ratissage de soldats français, Burkinabès et maliens est en cours dans la province de Soum,” Nord Sud Journal, April 4, 2017.
 Weiss, “Al Qaeda maintains operational tempo in West Africa in 2017.”
 Kisal, “Pour rappel, c’est Ansarul Islam (dirigé depuis le Burkina Faso) qui est soupçonné par les populations locales, dans cette attaque ayant duré’ 3 heures de temps,” Facebook, March 5, 2017.
 Heni Nsaibia, “Previously, in a few tweets I mentioned late #AQIM commander Abu Bakr al-Shinquiti, a member of the Sahara Region’s Shura Council and also a member of the Islamic Police in #Timbuktu under Jihadi rule,” Twitter, January 6, 2018.
 Héni Nsaibia, “Burkina faso: Ansaroul Islam pledging allegiance to the Islamic State? maybe or maybe not,” Menastream, April 16, 2017.
 Héni Nsaibia, “#Mali: #AQIM statement on the death of Comm. Abu Bakr al-Shinquiti after raid on FAMa barracks near #Burkina border,” Twitter, July 17, 2016.
 Le Cam.
 Ibid.; “Ali Tamboura, ex-otage de terroristes ‘Mes ravisseurs me connaissent très bien,’” Sidwaya, September 10, 2017.
 “The Social Roots of Jihadist Violence in Burkina Faso’s North,” International Crisis Group, October 12, 2017.
 Héni Nsaibia, “#Niger: As an example look at this picture, this Ansaroul Islam fighter guards a flock of goats, the herder unmasked & therefore cropped out,” Twitter, October 21, 2017.
 “Baraboule dans le soum des individus armes enleve le troupeau de boeuf d’un maire,” Faso Nord, September 26, 2017.
 Caleb Weiss, “Analysis: Jihadist attacks on the rise in northern Burkina Faso,” FDD’s Long War Journal, October 2, 2017.
 “Attaque d’un convoi militaire entre Tongomayel et Inatan: Une escalade dans le mode opératoire des attaques au Sahel,” Infowakat, August 17, 2017.
 Héni Nsaibia, “#Mali: #JNIM claimed a second IED attack on December 28 that destroyed another Malian army armored vehicle of type ACMAT VLRA equipped with a ZPU-2 twin-barreled 14.5mm heavy machine gun between Boni and Boulkessi, #Mopti,” Twitter, January 3, 2018.
 Heni Nsaibia, “Two young shepherds (13 and 14 years old) killed in IED/mine explosion in the forest of #Mondoro near the border with #BurkinaFaso,” Twitter, April 3, 2017.
 Caleb Weiss, “JNIM claims ambush on French troops in Mali,” FDD’s Long War Journal, April 8, 2017.
 “Barkhane: un sapeur meurt au combat dans l’accomplissement de sa mission,” Ministère de la Défense, April 6, 2017.
 “Mali: la force Barkhane indique avoir tué deux terroristes durant une opération,” RFI, April 16, 2017.
 “Mali: l’armée française dresse le bilan de l’opération ‘Bayard,’” RFI, May 5, 2017.
 Ludivine Laniepce, “Burkina: réfugiés au Mali par peur de leur armée,” Ouest-France, February 1, 2018.
 “Troops and Police Contributors,” United Nations Peacekeeping.
 “Burkina Faso: des policiers désertent une commune après une attaque,” RFI, February 14, 2018.
 “Retrait de policiers de Déou (145 km de Djibo): ‘c’est un repli tactique …’ (Clément Sawadogo, ministre de la Sécurité),” Radio Omega, February 14, 2018.
 “Aperçu des impacts de la situation sécuritaire dans la région du Sahel et du Nord,” Humanitarian Response, February 8, 2018.
 “Mali: Unchecked Abuses in Military Operations,” Human Rights Watch, September 8, 2017.
 Andrew McGregor, “The Fulani Crisis: Communal Violence and Radicalization in the Sahel,” CTC Sentinel 10:2 (2017).
 “Burkina Faso: Situation des écoles fermées dans la région du Sahel,” Humanitarian Response, February 13, 2018.
 “Mali: la situation humanitaire est préoccupante dans la localité de Gossi,” Studio Tamani, February 21, 2018.
 Weiss, “Al Qaeda branch in Mali claims Burkina Faso attacks.”