• “One banner, one group, one Emir”

Active in Locations:

  • North Africa, the Maghreb, the Sahel
  • Algeria
  • Mali
  • Niger
  • Libya
  • Mauritania
  • Senegal
  • Tunisia


  • Rid North Africa of Western influence.2 AQIM aligns with al-Qaeda’s broader goals to institute sharia (Islamic law) in all its areas of operation
  •  their stated goals are to “unite all Muslims from the Nile to the Atlantic in jihad against Westerners” 7

Recruitment Methods:

“An April 2007 report by Lianne Boudali of West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center suggested that the GSPC merged with al-Qaeda in part due to declining recruitment. Rebranding as AQIM and broadening their focus outside of Algeria and Tunisia made it easier for the group to recruit informants, logisticians, and militants. As part of this plan, GSPC trained and sent fighters to join Abu Musab al-Zarqawi—then the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq—in 2005. The increased scope and scale of attacks after 2007 suggests that AQIM successfully recruited some of these Iraqi fighters after Zarqawi’s death. As AQIM shifted its focus away from Algeria and toward the more vulnerable west African countries of Mali, Niger, and Côte d’Ivoire, it increased its recruitment efforts within these countries. By 2016, Malians had reportedly replaced Algerians as the most prominent nationality within the group. This change is visible in the March 2016 beach resort attack in Côte d’Ivoire, in which all of the terrorists involved were sub-Saharan Africans.”

while almost 80 percent of adults in Bamako, Mali consume radio, TV, or internet news daily, Voice of America programming reaches only 10 percent of adults in all of these platforms.99 AQIM runs its own robust media operations and communications strategy to support recruitment and messaging. 5

AQIM’s involvement in commercial enterprises is likely minor and opportunistic. However, given the weak financial regulatory infrastructure in the region, AQIM is likely to continue to launder money from local businesses. An AQIM cell in Guinea Bissau uncovered by authorities in early 2016 was using profits gained from the saleof luxury vehicles to finance its recruitment and arms purchases. 5

AQIM’s expenditures reflect the broad nature of the group’s interests. Money is spent largely on fighters, but the group also spends to develop tribal alliances and other terror organizations. 5Varying reports from the UN and journalists indicate Ansar Dine and AQIM in 2012 were paying yearly salaries of between $1,000 and $4,800 to the parents of recruited children, with the UN also reporting that parents of children recruited for AQIM received a $600 bonus.190 Mali’s GDP per capita was $777 in 2012.191

ɦMUJAO paid its recruits $100-$400 per month in Mali in 2013 5



  • AQIM’s attacks and militant operations reached their height in 2007.  Prior to this time the group’s terrorist activities were limited to kidnappings and guerilla-style attacks on Algerian government targets, which usually utilized small arms.  Beginning in 2007, however, AQIM began to focus its resources on larger-scale bombings and higher profile kidnappings. Droukdal also began to spread AQIM’s activities further into other states in the region, reflecting his desire to establish an Islamic Caliphate not only in Algeria but also across the rest of North Africa. 4
  • AQIM is most famous for it numerous kidnappings of aid workers, diplomats, tourists, and employees of multinational corporations.  Many, but not all, of those kidnapped by AQIM have been Western citizens in Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Algeria. [71] [72] 4
  • In its early days, AQIM often perpetrated guerilla-style attacks using small arms, in addition to mortar, rocket, and IED attacks. [73] Its most common targets were the Algerian Government or military officials. After 2007, the group began to focus on larger, more sophisticated bombing attacks.  The group is known to possess significant quantities of AK-47 assault rifles, various small handguns, Semtex (a multi-purpose plastic explosive), PK 7.62mm GPMGs (General Purpose Machine Gun), and RPGs (Rocket Propelled Grenades).  Additionally, AQIM has been reported to possess SA-7 surface-to-air missiles, .50 caliber DSHKs (armor-piercing machine guns), and NATO issued F2000 assault rifles. The group’s weapons stores have only increased since the outbreak of civil war in Libya in 2011, which brought an influx of arms to the Maghreb region. [74] 4
  • Although AQIM has often targeted westerners in North Africa, the group has never carried out an attack outside of the Middle East.  Although undoubtedly hostile to the U.S., AQIM views France and Spain as the “far enemy,” as opposed to the secular governments of the Maghreb, which it deems the “near enemy.” 4
  • Perceives all non-Islamist governments as illegitimate and, accordingly, seeks to replace the various governments in the countries in which AQIM operates
  • Specifically targets what it sees as a continued Western influence in the region
  • AQIM has been the most successful al-Qaeda affiliate when it comes to kidnapping and ransoming foreigners
  • Launches hundreds of small-scale attacks each year against United Nations, French, and local security forces
  • declared Spain and France its foremost “far enemies.”2
  • Its members have frequently kidnapped, and sometimes executed, aid workers, tourists, diplomats, and employees of multinational corporations 2


  • April 11, 2007: Carries out two deadly attacks: one suicide attack against the prime minister’s office in Algiers and a second attack on a police station in the east of the capital. The attacks kill at least 30 and wounding dozens
  • December 11, 2007: Two car bombs in Algiers, one near the Supreme Constitutional Court and one near UN offices, kill at least 60, including 10 UN personnel, wound more than 170
  • November 2011: AQIM kidnaps four French nationals from a uranium compound in Niger, as well as three foreign nationals from the Netherlands, Sweden, and South Africa. The seven hostages are released in September 2013. AQIM also captures French national Serge Lazarevic and Dutch national Sjaak Rijke and continues to hold them, hostage, as of December 2014.
  • May 27th, 2014: Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb said Friday it was responsible for a recent attack on the home of Tunisia’s interior minister that killed four policemen, the first such claim in the country. “A group of lions… went to cut off the head of the criminal Lotfi Ben Jeddou at his home… and God allowed them to kill a number of his personal guards,” an AQIM statement said.3

March 13, 2016: AQIM gunmen open fire at a beach resort in Grand-Bassam, a coastal town located 25 miles east of Abidjan in Côte d’Ivoire. The attack—the first al-Qaeda attack in the country—leaves 19 people dead, including 16 civilians and three Ivorian soldiers. Among the killed are foreign citizens from France, Germany, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Cameroon.