Mali: Presumed AQIM commander of Grand-Bassam attack arrested near Gossi
“Mastermind” of Grand-Bassam shootings
On January 11, RFI reported that one of the commanders who directed the Grand-Bassam attack in Ivory Coast on March 13, 2016 had been arrested near Gossi, in the region of Gao between January 9 and 10 by French Barkhane forces. In the report is the concerned individual named as ‘Mimi Ould Baba Ould El Mokhtar’, as noted has the name stirred some confusion making some to believe that the person arrested is Mini Ould Baba Ould Sidi Al Mokhtar, who is the tribal chief of Arab Kountas. RFI corrected the name in a report on January 12 by stating that the name of the individual arrested is Mimi Ould Baba Ould Cheikh “presumed brain” behind the Grand-Bassam attack, tracked by the Malian secret service after returning from a stay in Algeria and arrested in coordination with French Barkhane forces who have Ould Cheikh in their custody.
A heritage: from drug-trafficking to jihadism
Mimi Ould Baba Ould Cheikh is no one less than the son of the infamous drug trafficker Baba Ould Cheikh, strongly associated with MUJAO. Baba Ould Cheikh is also the mayor of Tarkint, originating from the small village of Tangara near Tabankort. Ould Cheikh the older is attributed a prominent role in the drugtrafficking network of Gao, a network sometimes referred to as the “Mali Connection”, arrested for his supposed involvement in the”Air Cocaine” case. Baba Ould Cheikh has also acted as a mediator for the liberation of hostages abducted by jihadists. Just like his father, Mimi seems to have taken a prominent role in the regional trafficking and jihadist networks, an inherited position benefiting from his fathers contacts and kinship. It is very possible that Ould Cheikh the younger was behind the Grand-Bassam attack, but also the previous attack that overnight struck Splendid Hotel and restaurant Cappuccino in central Ouagadougou on January 15-16, 2016. According to local sources is Mimi’s involvement in the serie of attacks that struck West Africa in early 2016 something that is “generally known”, and especially in Gao. A question that remains unanswered is what brought Mimi to Gossi following his alleged visit to Algeria? A fateful journey that eventually led to his arrest.