Like its parent organization and other affiliates, AQIM is not immune from the media debate over whether it has been defeated or is resurgent. In February 2014, McClatchy asked, “Is the U.S. Powerless to Stop the Spread of Al Qaeda?” The article ominously noted that the “black flag of al Qaida flies in Fallujah, the group and its offshoots are spreading across the Middle East and Africa, and their fighters are battling for control of cities not only in Iraq but also in Syria, Lebanon and beyond.” The outlet quoted U.S. Representative Mike Rogers (R-MI), chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, who bluntly stated, “Harbor no illusions: Al Qaida is not on its heels or even on the run… Their operations in Iraq, Syria, Pakistan and large portions of Africa indicate that al Qaida is alive and well…”
Yet by late April 2014, the New York Times’ Adam Nossiter asked, “Is Al Qaeda’s regional affiliate in West Africa dead, at least for now?” Nossiter pointed to the deaths of “more than 40[AQIM] jihadists in Mali” since March 2014, including Mokhtar Belmokhtar’s father-in-law, as well as the fact that “jihadists have not pulled off any significant attacks in nearly a year…Many of their arms caches have been destroyed.” Nossiter quoted a Western defense official who said, “Their offensive capabilities have been seriously harmed. Their leaders have been neutralized, their logistics have been damaged…this is not the AQIM of one year ago.” That analysis led Nossiter to conclude, “So the group that terrorized half a country, northern Mali…has been reduced to a pale remnant of its former self. It is no longer the pre-eminent threat to fragile states in West Africa’s Sahel region…”
Similarly reporting AQIM’s death-knell militarily in late April, the Associated Press pointed out that AQIM had been so devastated by France’s air strikes that it was “trying something new to stay relevant: Twitter.” According to the network, the group’s PR campaign “aims to allow [AQIM] to move the fight at least partly off the battlefield by appealing to widespread concerns, such as the repression and a sense of injustice that galvanized the Arab Spring revolts.”
A CNN article similarly downplays the threat played by AQIM, referring to them as a “a small splinter group of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), an al-Qaeda affiliate prone to disunity.” CNN also alluded to al-Qaeda's message and draw being seemingly outdated in the rise of ISIS, “It is not the first—and likely will not be the last—jihadist outfit to quit al-Qaeda for the millenarian message of al-Baghdadi.”
On February 26, 2015, a Boko Haram suicide bomber detonated his explosives near a market in Biu, Nigeria, killing 19 people and injuring 20 others. A second attempted-suicide bomber was caught and beaten by a crowd before he was able to carry out his attack.