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Terrorist and Hostage-Taking Related Designations of JNIM and al-Murabitoun Leaders

The United States remains committed to bringing American hostages home and to deterring future hostage-takings.  Today, the Department of State is designating a total of seven individuals pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, as amended, and E.O. 14078.

The Department is designating four leaders of Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM) and al-Murabitoun as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGT), pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, as amended.

  • Messaoud Belhireche, also known as Usama Abu-‘Abd-al-Wahid al-Jaza’iri, is a senior JNIM leader and the head of JNIM finances.
  • Talha al-Libi, also known as Sidi Mohamed Ould Mohamed Salem, is the JNIM emir of Timbuktu and leader of the al-Furqan Battalion.  Al-Libi has ordered JNIM attacks against Malian, French, and MINUSMA forces in Mali.
  • Hamama Ould Khouier, also known as Hamza Tabankort, is the emir of al-Murabitoun and was involved in JNIM hostage negotiations, including negotiations related to Western hostages.
  • Hussein Ould Hammada, also known as Zakaria Tabankort, is the deputy leader of al-Murabitoun.  Hammada worked closely with Khouier and was involved in several attacks and kidnappings of Westerners.

The Department is designating the following for being leaders of JNIM, an entity that has engaged in, or whose members have engaged in, the hostage-taking of at least one U.S. national abroad, pursuant to E.O. 14078.

  • Iyad ag Ghali, also known as Iyad Ag Ghaly, is a leader and founder of both JNIM and Ansar al-Dine (AAD).
  • Amadou Kouffa, also known as Hammadoun Kouffa, is a senior member of JNIM and has been involved in numerous attacks and kidnappings in Mali and Burkina Faso.
  • Salem Ould Breihmatt, also known as Abu Hamza al-Shanqiti and Hamza al-Mauritani, is a JNIM senior leader and emir of Arbinda and Serma in the Mopti Region of Mali.
  • Hamama Ould Khouier also known as Hamza Tabankort, is the emir of al-Murabitoun, which merged with other groups to form JNIM in 2017, and was involved in JNIM hostage negotiations, including negotiations related to Western hostages.
  • Hussein Ould Hammada also known as Zakaria Tabankort, is the deputy leader of al-Murabitoun.  Hammada worked closely with Khouier and was involved in several attacks and kidnappings of Westerners.

AAD is an organization operating in Mali which cooperates closely with al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).  Al-Murabitoun was originally formed after it split from AQIM in 2012.  Al-Murabitoun joined the Sahara Branch of AQIM, AAD, and the Macina Liberation Front to form JNIM, which became al-Qa’ida’s largest and most lethal affiliate in West Africa and the Sahel.  JNIM has claimed responsibility for numerous kidnappings and attacks since its formation in 2017.  In addition to ransom from kidnapping, JNIM receives funding from extortion, from smugglers, and from traffickers.  The State Department designated JNIM and al-Murabitoun as SDGTs in 2018 and 2013, respectively.

As a result of our actions, all property and interests in property of those designated today that are subject to U.S. jurisdiction are blocked, and all U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in any transactions with them.

Petitions for removal from the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN) List may be sent to: [email protected].  Petitioners may also refer to the Department of State’s Delisting Guidance page.

Official news published at https://www.state.gov/terrorist-and-hostage-taking-related-designations-of-jnim-and-al-murabitoun-leaders/

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