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 the Arab Kounta. RFI corrected the name in a report on January 12 by stating that the name of the individual arrested is Mimi Ould Baba Ould Cheick—”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 Cheick in their custody.

A heritage: from drug-trafficking to jihadism

Mimi Ould Baba Ould Cheick is no one less than the son of the infamous drug trafficker Baba Ould Cheick, strongly associated with MUJAO. Baba Ould Cheick is also the mayor of Tarkint, originating from the small village of Tangara near Tabankort. Ould Cheick the older is attributed a prominent role in the drug-trafficking network of Gao, a network sometimes referred to as the “Mali Connection”, arrested for his supposed involvement in the”Air Cocaine” case. Baba Ould Cheick has also acted as a mediator for the liberation of hostages abducted by jihadis. Just like his father, Mimi seems to have taken a prominent role in the regional trafficking and jihadi networks, an inherited position benefiting from his father’s contacts and kinship. It is very possible that Ould Cheick 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 series 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.

Infamous drug trafficker Baba Ould Cheick and the father of Mimi arrested near Gossi
Left to right: Iyad Ag Ghaly, Baba Ould Cheick, Mohamed Ag Mahmoud, and El Hadj Ag Gamou