The Katiba Macina, also called the Macina Liberation Front (FLM) by the media, is a Salafist jihadist combat unit (katiba) that appeared in January 2015 during the Mali war. Active in the Mopti region and the Ségou region, it is affiliated with Ansar Dine, then with the Support Group for Islam and Muslims.
"Macina" means the entire flooded area of the inner Niger delta, that is to say the area between the circles of Mopti, Ténenkou and Youwarou. The term also refers to the Fulani empire of Macina, founded in the 19th century by the marabout Sékou Amadou.
The name "Macina Liberation Front" appeared for the first time in 2015 in a communication transmitted to the Mauritanian news agency Alakhbar but was not used by either the jihadists or the local communities. In its first official communication, on May 18, 2016, the group calls itself “katiba Macina”,.
In this same video, she displays her affiliation with Ansar Dine, the group of Iyad Ag Ghali,,,.
The group would be composed mainly of former Fulani combatants from MUJAO. The founder of the group is Amadou Koufa, a marabout who in January 2013 had been one of the planners of the offensive on Konna,,,,.
Katiba Macina is closely linked to Katiba Khalid Ibn Walid, another Ansar Dine brigade active in southern Mali. According to the Malian General Directorate of State Security (DGSE), a Fulani named Hassan Dicko with the pseudonym "Abou Leila" would be the link between the two groups. Considered the right arm of Amadou Koufa, he was arrested on September 5, 2015.
Besides Amadou Koufa, the military leader is Mahmoud Barry, known as Abou Yehiya. He was arrested by the Malian DGSE on July 26, 2016 between Nampala and Dogofry.
Another leader of the group is Bekaye Sangaré, killed by the Malian national guard in Mougna, near Djenné, on July 14, 2017.
Imrana Cissé is said to be one of the group's ideologues.
At the end of 2015, the Malian DGSE estimated that the Katiba Macina had 170 men, mainly Fulani.
During the same period, the French general François Labuze, commander of the Barkhane force in Mali, estimated that the katiba Macina had only a few dozen men.
Le Monde, in May 2016, put forward the figure of 200 men.
In early 2018, Le Figaro estimated the number of fighters under Koufa's orders at 100 to 150. According to researcher Adam Thiam, however, "this figure should not hide the much larger number of faithful, informants, and logistical support. Almost all the Fulani villages of Macina have nationals with him, proof of his popularity”.
In 2018, a Katiba deserter told FIDH that his camp, located in the Dinangourou forest, alone housed around a hundred men, while a second deserter claimed to have been in a camp in the Dialloubé forest. which numbered 150 men, then in a camp in a forest near Boulikessi which numbered 300 men.
Most members of the Katiba Macina are Malian Fulani, but the group also includes fighters from other ethnicities and nationalities.
The Katiba Macina operates in a decentralized manner while having a well-organized chain of command.
In addition to its core in the interior delta, the group includes many units, each called markaz ("center", in Arabic) and operating on the same model: a leader, the amirou markaz, assisted by a military commander, a shura (advisory council), and a qadi (“judge”, in Arabic). Each amirou markaz normally sits on the movement's main Majlis al-shura (advisory council), which is headed by Kufa and includes other Islamic preachers. Each markaz exercises authority over