Gaza-Based Jihadi Cleric Praises Statement Issued By Malian Al-Qaeda Affiliate GSIM Declaring Willingness To Negotiate With Mali Government: Statement Demonstrates 'Rational Comprehension Of Events', 'Mature Discourse'

October 22, 2021

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On October 21, 2021, Na'el Bin Ghazi, a Gaza-based jihadi cleric, published a post[1] on Telegram praising a March 2020 statement released by the Mali-based Group for Support of Islam and Muslims (GSIM), which is  Al-Qaeda's affiliate in the Sahel region, in which the group declared that it is willing to negotiate with the Malian government.[2]

Bin Ghazi's post comes after an October 19 statement from the Malian government asking the country's main Islamic body to facilitate peace talks with GSIM's leaders, in an effort to end a decade of conflict.

In his post, Bin Ghazi highlighted that the GSIM statement "focused on several issues, reflecting a broad understanding and rational comprehension of events, [demonstrating] consideration of people's concerns and meeting their demands, [while also] avoiding more complex issues, which people are not quite ready to comprehend..."

The cleric further praised the group's glorification of "rallies and  peaceful protests demanding the departure of the occupiers." The statement, continued Bin Ghazi, combined "the Malian people's love for their country and their respect for shari'a," adding that "occupiers and tyrants" have always tried to distort the image of the mujahideen and portray them as "groups whose discourse doesn’t include nationalism."

Bin Ghazi also noted that the statement "linked the Malian people with the wider Arabic and Islamic [world] by connecting [the Malian] uprising with the uprising of Muslim nations, who revolted against occupiers and tyrants..."

According to Bin Ghazi, GSIM's declaration of its willingness to negotiate with the Malian government is "an acknowledgment of the impact of the local population..." He wrote: GSIM "agreed to negotiate on issues that don't contradict shari'a, with an emphasis on legitimate issues concerning human nature, such as defending religion, freedom, dignity, the right of self-determination, and the right to choose rulers, free of duress or misinformation[.]" These ideas, stated the cleric, can "remove the fear planted by the invaders in the hearts of the people with regard to the mujahideen, and [change] their views on the situation on the ground, [overcoming] the depiction [of the mujahideen] as having an agenda aiming to control people."

Highlighting that the statement also focused on meeting with Malian political figures who reject France's involvement in the internal issues of Mali, the cleric pointed out that it maintained an open line of communication with the Malian government and declared an intention to "start the negotiating under the condition that the government must side with the people [of Mali] and sever ties with the invaders." He continued: "In that regard, the group used reassuring terms, and avoided terms that might be misinterpreted and hinder the most significant interest [of the group] which is to start the negotiation and meet the objectives, for which the Malian people revolted."

Bin Ghazi concluded by praising the religious and political discourse of seasoned jihadi groups, saying that it is "undoubtedly reached a state of maturity," and that "the minds of scholars and knowledge-seekers will certainly ascend to meet the same [level] of discourse "

[1] Telegram, October 21, 2021

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