A recently published video shows militants of the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) displaying technicals belonging to the Tuareg Imghad and Allies Self-defence Group (GATIA), seized following an attack on a GATIA post in Ahina on December 22, 2017, according to the secretary general of GATIA, Fahad Ag Almahmoud. A vehicle is said to have been recovered in Intameda, also according Ag Almahmoud, this points to that the assailants were members of Katiba Salaheddine led by Sultan Ould Badi, a group that previously was affiliated with Jama’ah Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM), but pledged allegiance to the Islamic State and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi sometime around mid-2017, and consequently joined ISGS.
On June 21, presumed ISGS militants ambushed a convoy of the Movement for the Salvation of Azawad (MSA) in the area of Tamalat-Azar near the Nigerien border about 160km east of Menaka, reports speak of at least eleven dead in the ranks of MSA. Meanwhile, MSA acknowledged dead in its ranks but failed to provide a toll, this while claiming to have “neutralized more than ten bandits”.
One of the combatants sitting on a motorbike also took part in an attack against the Nigerien gendarmerie in Ayorou on October 21, 2017, then he operated a Doshka machine gun mounted on a Toyota Land Cruiser pickup truck. The presence of a Katiba Salaheddine member (presumably more) amidst the attack in Ayorou further indicates that reinforcements received from Katiba Salaheddine and Katiba Macina defectors significantly contributed to increase the capabilities of ISGS, reflected by a number of mass-casualty attacks in 2017. The attack in Ayorou took place two and a half weeks after the deadly ambush against joint forces of U.S. Green Berets and the Nigerien army in Tongo Tongo. One of the attackers in Ayorou sported what strongly resembled an M4 carbine, supposedly seized amidst the ambush in Tongo Tongo.
The militants in the video take turns expressing some slogan-like phrases such as “O Boubacar Keita (Mali’s president), O they who fight the soldiers of God, O they who fight the Islamic State, here is the booty of the enemy GATIA..”, another one says “We brought you men who love to die in the cause of God more than you love life”, “this is the booty of the apostates who fight the Islamic State”, and so on.