Bah ag Moussa

Bah ag Moussa was a U.S.-and U.N.-designated terrorist leader based in Mali. Moussa was a former officer of the Malian Armed Forces—serving as the head of the Islamic police in Timbuktu—and a founding member of Ansar al-Dine.“Security Council ISIL (Da'esh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee Amends One Entry on Its Sanctions List,” United Nations, August 20, 2019, https://www.un.org/press/en/2019/sc13924.doc.htm; Andrew Lebovich, “The Local Face of Jihadism in Northern Mali,” Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, June 2013, https://ctc.usma.edu/the-local-face-of-jihadism-in-northern-mali/. In 2013, Bah ag Moussa settled in Tin Zaouatène and joined the Haut Conseil pour l’Unité de l’Azawad (HCUA)—a Tuareg political and military movement that features many members of the al-Qaeda-allied Ansar al-Din movement.“Bah Ag Moussa,” United Nations Security Council, August 14, 2019, https://www.un.org/securitycouncil/content/bah-ag-moussa. Bah ag Moussa then transmitted Iyad ag Ghali’s, Ansar al-Din’s leader, messages and recruited Tuareg fighters for the jihadist camp.“Bah Ag Moussa,” United Nations Security Council, August 14, 2019, https://www.un.org/securitycouncil/content/bah-ag-moussa.

Although he was not a public-facing member of AQIM, Bah ag Moussa—who developed a particular reputation for cruelty toward women—was far from unknown.Andrew Lebovich, “The Local Face of Jihadism in Northern Mali,” Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, June 2013, https://ctc.usma.edu/the-local-face-of-jihadism-in-northern-mali/. In 2007, after spending time in Saudi Arabia, Bah ag Moussa established a mosque in Timbuktu and began to preach on Mali’s official television station.Andrew Lebovich, “The Local Face of Jihadism in Northern Mali,” Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, June 2013, https://ctc.usma.edu/the-local-face-of-jihadism-in-northern-mali/.

In 2017, Bah ag Moussa became the operational leader of Jama’at Nusrat ul-Islam wa al-Muslimin (JNIM) under the leadership of Iyad ag Ghali. Bah ag Moussa is the half-brother of Sidi Mohamed ag Oukana, Iyad ag Ghali’s religious advisor.“Bah Ag Moussa,” United Nations Security Council, August 14, 2019, https://www.un.org/securitycouncil/content/bah-ag-moussa.

Bah ag Moussa is responsible for leading attacks in several other localities throughout northern Mali.“Treasury Targets Al-Qa’ida in Mali,” United States Department of the Treasury, July 16, 2019, https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/sm730. On July 16, 2016, he led the attack against the Nampala barracks, which resulted in the death of 20 Malian soldiers.“Bah Ag Moussa,” United Nations Security Council, August 14, 2019, https://www.un.org/securitycouncil/content/bah-ag-moussa. In March 2019, Bah ag Moussa helped lead a terrorist operation against a Malian Armed Forces base in Dioura that killed at least 21 Malian soldiers.“23 Mali soldiers dead as militants attack Dioura camp in Mopti region,” Defense Post, March 18, 2019, https://thedefensepost.com/2019/03/18/mali-soldiers-killed-attack-dioura-camp-mopti/.

On July 16, 2019, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), in concert with the Department of State, designated Bah ag Moussa as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, which targets terrorists and those providing support to terrorists or acts of terrorism.“Terrorist Designation of Ali Maychou,” U.S. Department of State, July 16, 2019, https://www.state.gov/terrorist-designation-of-ali-maychou/. On August 14, 2019, the U.N. Security Council’s ISIL (Da’esh) and al Qaeda Sanctions Committee imposed sanctions against Bah ag Moussa pursuant to paragraphs 2 and 4 of resolution 2368 (2017) as being associated with ISIL or Al-Qaida and otherwise supporting the groups’ acts or activities.“Bah Ag Moussa,” United Nations Security Council, August 14, 2019, https://www.un.org/securitycouncil/content/bah-ag-moussa.

On November 13, 2020, France announced the death of Bah ag Moussa. The operation involved helicopters and ground troops, which identified and “neutralized” Bah ag Moussa who was in a truck in the Menaka region of eastern Mali.“French forces kill jihadist commander in Mali,” France 24, November 13, 2020, https://www.france24.com/en/live-news/20201113-french-forces-kill-jihadist-commander-in-mali?utm_source=iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=1715438_; “French Forces Kill al-Qaida-Linked Commander in Mali,” Associated Press, November 13, 2020, https://www.voanews.com/africa/french-forces-kill-al-qaida-linked-commander-mali.

Also Known As

Extremist entity
Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM)
Type(s) of Organization:
Insurgent, non-state actor, religious, terrorist, transnational, violent
Ideologies and Affiliations:
Al-Qaeda affiliated group, Islamist, jihadist, Qutbist, Salafist, Sunni, takfiri
Position(s):
Senior leader of Jama’at Nusrat Al-Islam Wal-Muslimin (deceased)

Al-Qaeda’s North African branch, AQIM, operates in Algeria, Mali, Niger, Libya, Mauritania, and Tunisia. The group has executed numerous violent attacks in North and West Africa. The group is also known for its extensive history of kidnapping and extortion. 

  • Designations

United States

  • On July 16, 2019, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), in concert with the Department of State, designates Ali Maychou as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, which targets terrorists and those providing support to terrorists or acts of terrorism.“Terrorist Designation of Ali Maychou,” U.S. Department of State, July 16, 2019, https://www.state.gov/terrorist-designation-of-ali-maychou/.

United Nations
  • On August 14, 2019, the ISIL (Da’esh) and al Qaeda Sanctions Committee imposes sanctions against Bah Ag Moussa pursuant to paragraphs 2 and 4 of resolution 2368 (2017) as being associated with ISIL or Al-Qaida and otherwise supporting the groups’ acts or activities.“Bah Ag Moussa,” United Nations Security Council, August 14, 2019, https://www.un.org/securitycouncil/content/bah-ag-moussa.

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On June 24, 2017, Tehrik-i Taliban Pakistan (TTP) launched back-to-back explosions at a market in Kurram Agency of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in northwest Pakistan. The attack killed 67 people who were shopping in preparation for a religious holiday and wounded 200 others. 

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