Black, French Journalist Kidnapped By Islamists Militants

A video surfaced of a French journalist pleading for his release since being abducted by Islamist militants in Mali last month, reported The Washington Post.

“I’m Olivier Dubois. I’m French. I’m a journalist. I was kidnapped in Gao on April 8 by the JNIM,” he said in the 21-second clip released Wednesday. 

Olivier Dubois was kidnapped in the northeastern city of Gao on April 8 by an al-Qaeda-linked affiliate known as Jamaa Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM), or the Support Group for Islam and Muslims, according to the video and Paris-based press freedom watch dog Reporters Without Borders.

The exact day of the video is unclear and the footage has yet to be verified. The video shows Dubois sitting cross-legged on the floor in what appears to be a canvas tent while birds can be heard chirping in the background, per The Washington Post.

“I’m speaking to my family, my friends and the French authorities for them to do everything in their power to free me,” Dubois said in the video.

Dubois’ abduction was not made public while authorities worked quietly to secure his release, Christophe Deloire, secretary general of Reporters Without Borders, said Wednesday on Twitter. 

In a series of tweets, Deloire said he was notified of Dubois’ disappearance two days after he did not return to his hotel in Gao after going out for lunch. Dubois, who often worked for France’s Liberation newspaper and Le Point magazine, was a “seasoned journalist” who knew the country well, Deloire tweeted.

“In consultation with the news organizations that employed him, we decided not to announce that he had been taken hostage so as not to hinder a rapid possible outcome,” Deloire said on Twitter. “We are asking Malian and French authorities to do everything possible to obtain his release.”

Dubois’ disappearance in Mali was confirmed to Reuters and the Associated Press by France’s Foreign Ministry in April. Reuters also quoted a Foreign Ministry source as saying that officials were working to authenticate the video and were in contact with Dubois’ family.

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Islamist militants, including from al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, have stalked Mali for years, staging raids on villages and military outposts and targeting both locals and foreigners for abduction, according to The Washington Post.

The Washington Post reported that France led a military operation to force out the fighters from where they had set up camp following a coup the year before in northern Mali in 2013. Since then, the militants have fanned out across the Sahel region, working in concert to grab swaths of territory not only in Mali but also in places such as Burkina Faso and Niger, according to U.S. and local officials.

The JNIM group that kidnapped Dubois is a coalition of al-Qaeda loyalists that the Defense Department estimates has as many as 2,000 fighters across West Africa, per The Washington Post.

According to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project, a U.S.-based nonprofit organization, JNIM “plays a central role” in Mali’s current unrest.

See the video of Dubois below:

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