Kidnapping Remains a Big Deal in the Sahel

Following months of negotiations, Sahel extremist group JNIM has released three foreign hostages and one Malian political leader. The Mali government led these talks, while France and Italy played minor or negligible roles. JNIM received at least €10 million for the hostages, in addition to the release from prison of 204 of its members. One of the prisoners released is charged in the U.S. with the murder of a U.S. citizen during an attack in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, in 2016. Other members released will provide a major boost to JNIM at the local level, especially in central Mali and southern Mali on the borders with Cote d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso. Kidnapping for ransom remains a lucrative business not only for jihadist groups, but also for individuals involved in negotiations over hostages.