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Iyad Ag Ghaly

Terror organization: Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen (JNIM)

Status: Leader of the Organization.

Role: Ghaly has aligned himself with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) brigades that are fighting the French and Malian armed forces in Mali and the surrounding areas of Burkina Faso and Niger. Ghaly’s notorious approach has exacerbated the conflict in Mali and made the UN peacekeeping mission there to become one of the most dangerous in the world.
As an ethnic Tuareg from northern Mali, Ghaly first gained notoriety during the Tuareg rebellion in the 1990s. In 1991, media sources claimed Ghaly served as secretary-general of the Popular Movement of Azawad.

Location: Mali.

Born: 1954;

Place of Birth: Abeïbara, Kidal Region, French Sudan ( today Mali );

Known also as: Iyad ag Ghali; Abu al-Faḍl; The Strategist.


Iyad ag Ghali was leader of Ansar al-Dine (AAD), an organization operating in Mali which cooperates closely with al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

Ghali created AAD in late 2011 because his effort to take over a secular Tuareg organization failed due to his extremist views.

Ghali has received backing from AQIM in AAD’s fight against Malian and French forces, most notably in the capture of the Malian towns of Agulhok, Tessalit, Kidal, Gao, and Timbuktu, between January and April 2012.

Before the French intervention in January 2013, Malian citizens in towns that had been under AAD’s control who did not comply with AAD’s laws had faced harassment, torture, or execution.

Before creating AAD, Ghali directed a 1990 rebellion against the Malian government by the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MPLA).

In 1991, he became the secretary general of an MPLA splinter group before becoming the Tuareg community’s leading negotiator with the Malian President’s office after the 1992 peace accords.

In 1999 and 2003, he served as an intermediary in the release of western hostages held by the Salafist Group for Call and Combat (a precursor organization to AQIM).

In 2006, Ghali took command of the rebel fighters responsible for attacks on military bases in Kidal, Mali.

Ghaly is leader of the designated Jama’at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin (JNIM).

JNIM was formed in March 2017, when several smaller groups including the Sahara branch of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Ansar Dine and Al-Mourabitoun merged.

JNIM’s leadership under Iyad Ag Ghaly has pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.

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