The Sahel region of West Africa has seen a growing problem with jihadist insurgency, with al-Qa'ida's affiliate Jama'at Nusrat al-Islam wa al-Muslimeen ('Group to Support Islam and Muslims'- JNIM) and the Islamic State's West Africa affiliate representing the primary threats.
JNIM's media wing al-Zalaqa Media has released a new speech by JNIM amir Iyad Ghali, in which he commends recent JNIM attacks against troops of the regional states and the French forces supporting those states. He also congratulates Somalia's al-Qa'ida affiliate al-Shabaab for an attack it conducted against a base used by the Americans in the East African country.
The JNIM amir frames the attacks as part of a growing wave of jihadist triumph and demonstrating the failure of the French project in the region. Also noteworthy is his framing of the attacks within the framework of a jihadist vision, as he speaks of aspirations for the return of the Caliphate.
Below is my full translation of the speech. I have inserted some endnotes for context.
Speech by the Sheikh Abu al-Fadl Iyad Ghali (may God protect him), amir of Jama'at Nusrat al-Islam wa al-Muslimeen
Duration: 6 minutes 44 seconds.
Date of Publication: Rabi' al-Awal 1441 AH
In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
(Words of a nasheed: Azawad[i] bears witness to their might so rejoice, oh Ummah of Islam, their daybreak has arisen).
The Sheikh Abu al-Fadl Iyad Ghali (may God protect him): praise be to God who supports Islam and the Muslims, and forsakes idolatry and the idolaters, and prayers and peace be upon the one sent with the sword as a mercy to the worlds,[ii] and his family and mujahideen companions and those who follow them with ihsan upon that clear direction. As for what follows:
As-salam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuhu
Our intrepid lions in Boulkessi,[iii] Barabouli, Mondoro[iv] and other places of the frontlines of the jihad and squares of the battle. May God accept from us and from you. And congratulations to us and you for what God has granted you from consecutive victories, the most prominent of which was your victory granted in the Boulkessi expedition, when you inflicted a massacre on the armoured vehicles of the French invaders of the G5 Sahel[v] forces, and you dispersed by them those behind them.[vi]
And congratulations before that and after it, to our glorious brothers in Somalia of giving and fulfilment, for what God blessed them from the splendid victory and glorious conquest, in their special expedition by which they shook the pillars of the American airbase,[vii] and in it inflicted damage on the servants of the Cross and their allies from the Banu Sahyun,[viii] so praise be to God then praise be to God.
Oh defiant commandoes, God has healed by your victories the chests of the believers and enraged the hearts of the disbelievers, so may God reward you best and grant you generously the recompense and reward.
For here are the Muslims in every place rejoicing in those glorious victories, and aspiring through them for the return of the rightly-guided Caliphate. And here are in contrast the soldiers of apostasy and the tails of collaboration lamenting their slain and cursing the calamity of the intervention of their Crusader master France, after the storms of its recklessness brought what the boats of their security and stability do not desire. For by God's grace, despite the arrogance of France, you have surrounded their evil dens as the bracelet surrounds the wrist, as the expeditions upon their fortresses have come in succession and the raids on their bases have come one after another, such that they have come to a state where they do not know what to be on guard against.
For if there were there one arrow you were not on guard against it, it is all the more so with an arrow then a second and a third.
Our noble cubs, indeed you by your blessed expedition like those before it have proven the sweeping failure with which the project of the five states of harming the neighbourhood[ix] has been afflicted: the so-called G5. And despite the puffing of the media for it, it has only been a disfigured pile of junk, by which the kinship of the French failure has been pushed to its grave in this land if God wills.
For even if there were not in those blessed expeditions but that obvious proof it would be sufficient, so it is all the more so when they make the volcano of mighty rage explode in the face of the Crusader invaders and their allies, making a mockery of their reckless intervention, and requiring them to depart in a hurried manner from the land of Islam, as confirmed by the defiant demonstrations that destroyed the base of the MINUSMA[x] forces in the town of Séváré,[xi] and the demonstrations of the Burkina capital Ouagadougou.
Our brothers and sons on ribat[xii] on the frontlines of supporting Islam and the Muslims, your fierce brothers in Boulkessi, whom God enabled to destroy those Crusader armoured vehicles, have granted you an example in the boldness that is to be imitated, and a course in courage that is to be followed. So get up: may God support you to follow their example, and to proceed on their manner.
And on this great occasion it is worthwhile for us to direct our call to the Malian regime and its soldiers, indeed to the rest of the systems that have cast aside the Shari'a[xiii] of the Lord of the Worlds and allied with the Crusader invaders, and to those governments as they have witnessed what those invaders have brought upon them from the woes of destruction and ruin and the convulsions of terror and disturbance as there are no security, stability, development or construction: to all those people, a call that cites the words of the Almighty and Merciful:
'Say to those who have disbelieved: if they desist, they will be forgiven for what came before, and if they return, upon them has passed the Sunna of those who came before them' (al-Anfal 38).
And last but not least, this is a return to you oh intrepid ones: may God direct your arrows, and plant your feet upon truth: a return to praising again your victory, and commending your standing, and encouraging you, saving the best for last if God wills, the words of the Powerful and Almighty that incite His mujahideen servants:
'Fight them: God will torment them at your hands and ruin them and grant you victory over them, and He will heal the hearts of a people of believers, and make the anger of their hearts disappear. And God will forgive the one He wills, and God is knowing, wise' (al-Tawba 14-15).
And God's blessings be upon the seal of those sent,[xiv] and praise be to God the Lord of the Worlds.
(Words of a nasheed: Azawad bears witness to their might so rejoice, oh Ummah of Islam, their daybreak has arisen).
[i] Referring to the region of northern Mali.
[ii] The Prophet Muhammad.
[iii] A locality on the Mali-Burkina Faso border. A JNIM raid took place there on 30th September-1st October 2019 CE.
[iv] Another locality on the Mali-Burkina Faso border where the aforementioned raid took place.
[v] An alliance of five states dealing with security and development in the Sahel region: Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad and Mali. Note also in this section the use of the word دروع (lit. 'shields' or 'armour'), which can also refer to armoured vehicles. It is worth pointing out that a number of vehicles were reportedly destroyed in the attacks.
[vi] A reference to Qur'an 8:57.
[viii] i.e. The Zionists.
[ix] Derisive reference to the alliance of the five states.
[x] The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali.
[xii] Manning the frontlines.
[xiii] Islamic law.
[xiv] The Prophet Muhammad.