Who is Katibat Macina?
Group financing profile
Katibat Macina, also known as the Macina Liberation Front, is one of the many jihadist groups active in the African Sahel. Responsible for attacks against Malian security forces, UN Peacekeepers, French troops and civilians, the group is dubbed “Mali’s equivalent to Boko Haram” due to its violent activities and influence in the region. While Katibat Macina (KM) emerged as an independent force largely made up of militants from the Fulani ethnic group, KM recently amalgamated into Jama’at Nusrat Al-Islam Wa Al-Muslimeen (JNIM), an umbrella coalition of al-Qaeda aligned groups. Experts believe that JNIM-affiliated groups, including KM, jointly earn between $18 and $35 million annually – a significant sum, especially for the landscape in Sahel. The following article will dive into how KM fits into JNIM as well as how the group is financed.
Origins and Operations
Katibat Macina’s (KM) leader, an extremist religious leader by the name of Amadou Kouffa, led Islamist militants in operations involving several groups since 2013. He brought KM together through his popular radio communications delivered in his native Fulani language. Kouffa exploited ethnic tensions to recruit militants by emphasizing that the necessity to liberate the Fulani people across Africa. KM proceeded to gain prominence in 2015 when it claimed responsibility for a string of violent attacks throughout Mali. One of the group’s earliest and most infamous attacks was the 2015 Raddison Blu hotel shooting in Bamako, Mali, where over 20 people were killed and over 170 were taken hostage.
Today, KM is based in Mali, with operations in the Niger Delta, as well as near Burkina Faso and Cote d’Ivoire. The group targets mostly security forces, but has also attacked a significant number of civilians in their area of control. To establish their presence, KM was thought to use its significant force of up to 4000 members. Due to recent amalgamations with other groups making up JNIM, the current number of KM combatants is unknown. Regardless of its current size, KM must engage in a variety of financial activities to carry out its operations.