Where do the weapons used by armed groups in the Sahel come from? A study published on Monday, August 23 by the NGO Amnesty International reveals that the Sahel branch of the Islamic State and JNIM linked to al-Qaeda use weapons for European production and in particular Serbian. Amnesty also points out that they are used by pro-government militias and refers to illegal armed groups for these groups.
Amnesty International has analyzed more than 400 photos and videos disseminated by the Sahel group in the Islamic State and by JNIM (Support Group for Islam and Muslims) linked to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), but also by local self-defense militias – Dan na Ambassagou in Mali or VDP (Volunteers for the Fatherland Defense) in Burkina – between January 2018 and May 2021.
Most of the weapons that can be seen there are old Kalashnikovs from the Soviet era, but Amnesty has also identified twelve cases where warriors had newer weapons made by a Serbian company, Zastava.
M70AB2, M92 and M05. These are machine guns that are quite present in the arsenals of armed groups, whether they are violent extremist groups or self-defense groups. It is for this reason that the company was particularly pointed out, ”explains Ousmane Diallo, a researcher specializing in the Sahel at Amnesty International.
Trafficking in human beings, weak controls or arms donationsJihadist groups regularly restore equipment for national armies, during attacks on barracks or on soldiers killed in battle. But Amnesty does not exclude other channels either.
“This may be due to arms trafficking and weakness in control of military inventories within countries in the Sahel,” adds Ousmane Diallo. And at the same time, one last hypothesis that cannot be overlooked is the possibility that some of the members of these armed forces are selling or giving some of these rifles to members of armed groups, especially soldiers. . ”
Amnesty reminds that France, Slovakia and the Czech Republic also export weapons to the Sahel and calls on these countries, but also the Sahelian governments that receive these weapons, to better control their use.