On 11th November 2018, Jama’a Nusrat ul-Islam wa al-Muslimin / Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM) released a video warning about the deteriorating health of Sophie Pétronin, who is being held hostage in Mali.
In the new video, JNIM pre-emptively blames French government if anything happens to Sophie Pétronin and absolves itself of all responsibility.
The 75-year-old Pétronin, who has cancer and malaria, has been held in the desert region without treatment for more than 600 days. In June 2018 a video appeared of Pétronin in which she addresses her son Sébastien.
In August 2018 her family appealed to the French President to help rescue Pétronin. She was working as an aid worker with Aide Gao, a small nonprofit that helps children suffering from malnutrition. On 1st July 2017, Az Zallaqa Media released a proof of life video “The Correct Equation” featuring all their current hostages, including Pétronin, under AQIM’s coalition Jama’a Nusrat ul-Islam wa al-Muslimin (JNIM).
One of the hallmarks of al Qaeda in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb’s (AQIM) operational tactics is kidnapping. This has not changed even after its “rebranding” effort as Jama’a Nusrat ul-Islam wa al-Muslimin (JNIM) — a “power-house” coalition between AQIM, Ansar Dine, Macina Liberation Front (MLF) and Mourabitounes. It is estimated that the kidnap-for-ransom business in the Sahel region alone has put at least $89-million in the coffers of AQIM since 2003. More than 90% of the group’s funding derives from this single financial source. The average ransom for the release of a Western hostage is $6.5-million. Johan Gustafsson was released on 26 June 2017 for a rumoured $5-million while Stephen McGowan’s release is said to have been secured by a €3.5-million payment.