Terrorist groups continue to extend their hold on Sahel, a region the size of Europe which lies south of the Sahara. Jihadist incursions happen daily, including terrorist attacks, murders, and raids on villages. The situation is increasingly explosive.
Armies from African nations are struggling to hold ground, which leaves entire areas undefended, and the French have decided to reduce their military support to the region. As a result, local people have been forced to take up arms to defend themselves.
Our team travelled to the centre of Mali, the heart of the Dogon people’s homeland. There we followed the Dan Na Ambassagou militia, made up of a thousand men armed with old guns. They face Islamist extremists who are equipped with Kalashnikovs and rocket launchers. But these “dozo” warriors also rely on charms, amulets and traditional beliefs in magic. They fight in temperatures of 45 degrees, with scarce water and no food. They are the last bastion of resistance for the 300,000 people who still live on the Dogon plateau.
Near Mopti, a city on the Niger River, we were able to interview four jihadists who had just deserted. Their testimony reveals the extremists’ recruitment methods as well as some surprising details about their way of life.
We also visited Mauritania, a country which is leading the way on the fight against terror. We were given exceptional access to the Mauritanian army during an operation led by the GSI, the Special Intervention Groups, which are commando units responsible for tracking down jihadist cells on the Malian border. A squadron of light aircraft worked as spotters, tracing the jihadist vehicles, and then destroyed them as they crossed the border.
Mauritania also has a special police force who can reach the most remote parts of the territory. They use an unusual form of transport – dromedaries! Colonel El-Khalil and his company of riders go deep into the desert for several weeks, so that they can gather intelligence from nomadic peoples.
This film is an immersive journey into the growing threat of a jihad without borders.
Jihadist groups have allied themselves with ISIS in Northern Mozambique and several thousand fighters have spread terror through the region. As a result, more than 3,000 people have died and 800,000 have been displaced.More info