French Forces Killed Al Qaeda's Top Terrorist Bah ag Moussa in Mali Besides 50 Radical Terrorists

In a major success in the fight against terrorism, French forces have killed Bah ag Moussa, a military leader of Al Qaeda’s North Africa wing, during an operation in northeastern Mali, Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly said on Friday 13-November 2020. Ag Moussa was responsible for several attacks against Malian and international forces in recent years.

French Forces Killed Al Qaeda's Top Terrorist Bah ag Moussa in Mali Besides 50 Radical Terrorists
French Forces Killed Al Qaeda’s Top Terrorist Bah ag Moussa in Mali Besides 50 Radical Terrorists

The former Malian army colonel, also known as Bamoussa Diarra, was a right-hand man of Iyad Ag Ghali, the leader of Mali’s most prominent jihadi group, Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM). He later participated in the Tuareg rebellions in the 1990s and early 2000s before turning into a jihadist militant. A close associate of Iyad Ag Ghali – the leader of Mali’s most prominent armed group, Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM) – Ag Moussa was on the US and UN’s terrorist lists.

The jihadist outfit has repeatedly attacked soldiers and civilians in Mali and neighbouring Burkina Faso.

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“A historic figure of the jihadist movement in the Sahel, Bah ag Moussa is considered responsible for several attacks against Malian and international forces,” Parly said in a statement.

Moussa, who was on the US terrorism list, was killed on Tuesday 10-November 2020 after an operation involving ground troops and helicopters and comes after a series of operations that have seen French forces kill dozens of Islamist fighters in recent weeks.

“This is a major success in the fight against terrorism,” Parly said.

Moussa was believed to be responsible for multiple attacks on Malian and international forces in the country, French military spokesman Col. Frederic Barbry told reporters on Friday.

Surveillance drones helped French forces in Mali identify Moussa’s truck in the Menaka region of eastern Mali, which was then targeted by the helicopters and 15 French commandos sent to the scene, Barbry said. All five people in the truck were killed after they ignored warning shots and fired on the French forces, he said.

Barbry described it as an act of “legitimate defense” and said the bodies were handled “in conformity with international humanitarian law.” He would not comment on whether allied forces including the US contributed intelligence to the operation.

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50 Islamist Radical Terrorists Killed in Mali

The French government said Monday 9-November 2020, its forces had killed more than 50 jihadists aligned to Al-Qaeda in air strikes in central Mali.

The offensive took place on Friday 6-November 2020 in an area near the borders of Burkina Faso and Niger, where government troops are struggling to rout an Islamic insurgency, French Defence Minister Florence Parly said after meeting members of Mali’s transitional government.

French Forces Killed Al Qaeda's Top Terrorist Bah ag Moussa in Mali Besides 50 Radical Terrorists
French Forces Killed Al Qaeda’s Top Terrorist Bah ag Moussa in Mali Besides 50 Radical Terrorists

“On October 30, the Barkhane force carried out an operation, neutralizing more than 50 jihadists and confiscating their equipment and weapons,” Parly posted on Twitter, thanking the foreign-stationed French troops for their service.

She added that around 30 motorcycles were destroyed.

Parly, who earlier met Niger President Mahamadou Issoufou and her Nigerien counterpart Issoufou Katambe before heading to Bamako, said the operation was launched after a drone detected a “very large” motorcycle caravan in the “three borders” area.

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When the jihadists moved under trees to try and escape surveillance, the French force sent in two Mirage jets and a drone to launch missiles, leading to the “neutralisation” of the insurgents, Parly said.

Military spokesman Colonel Frederic Barbry said that “four terrorists have been captured”.

Explosives and a suicide vest had been found, he told a reporters in a conference call, saying that the group had been “about to attack (an army) position in the region”.

Barbry also said that another operation, this time targeting the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara, was also underway, with a total of 3,000 soldiers.

According to a follow up tweet, the operation constituted a “significant blow” to a group affiliated with Al Qaeda, which is banned in Russia. Parly specified that she had informed the Malian transitional authorities about the success of the operation during a meeting.

“I have just met with the Malian transitional president, as well as the vice-president and the minister of defense and veterans. Frank and constructive exchanges,” Parly tweeted.

The French defence minister added in a separate tweet that the Malian interim government was committed to organizing democratic elections in the Western African nation. Parly also welcomed “the involvement of the transitional authorities in the fight against terrorism.”

In 2014, France launched its own Operation Barkhane to fight terrorists in the Sahel region. The mission was reinforced by the establishment of the G5 Sahel in 2017. Endorsed by the African Union, the 5,000-strong group brings together Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger.

Mali frees over 200 jailed jihadists in effort to win release of two hostages in October 2020. A Ransom of €30 million was also paid to secure release of hostages.

Mali has freed more than 200 suspected or convicted jihadists as part of negotiations for the release of a prominent Malian politician and a kidnapped French charity worker, as per the sources on Monday 5-October 2020.

As per the sources, “As part of the negotiations to obtain the release of Soumaila Cissé and Sophie Pétronin, more than one hundred jihadist prisoners were released this weekend,” one of those in charge of the negotiations. Terrorists also received, according to various sources, a ransom of €30 million.

An official at the security services confirmed the information. The prisoners were released in the central region of Niono and in Tessalit in the north after arriving by plane, the official said.

A lawmaker in Tessalit, who also requested anonymity, confirmed that “large numbers of jihadist prisoners” arrived there on Sunday.

Sophie Pétronin, a French charity worker, was abducted by gunmen on December 24, 2016, in the northern city of Gao.

The last video in which she appeared was received in June 2018. She appeared tired and emaciated, and appealed to French President Emmanuel Macron. In another video, in November 2018, in which she did not appear, her kidnappers said her health had deteriorated.

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Soumaila Cissé is a former opposition leader and three-time presidential candidate. He was seized on March 25 while campaigning in his home region of Niafounké ahead of legislative elections.

Mali, supported by France and UN peacekeepers, is struggling with an eight-year-old Islamist insurgency that has claimed thousands of lives.

A military junta overthrew President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in August, before taking over leadership of the West African nation.

The objective of the military operations, that have been multiplying since October 30, seems to be the rallying of troops of the Barkhane force, after the unease caused by the release of these hundreds of jihadists.

A trained soldier, Bah Ag Moussa had strategic insights and knowledge of the terrain. The question is whether he had trained successors and whether others of his caliber could replace him. The death of this leader is therefore significant.

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Points to Ponder

What happened to the policy of no negotiations with Terrorists? Why were over 200 Islamist Radical Terrorists released in exchange for 4 hostages besides paying a ransom of €30 million?

Will these released Islamist Radical Terrorists now funded by a huge ransom of €30 million not be emboldened to kidnap more foreigners in future to secure the release of their fellow terrorists in future besides demanding bigger ransoms?

Who will be responsible for the killing of innocent foreigners who may be killed in future in case their demands are not met?

Was this a correct decision of those in charge?

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