France has once again a hostage in the world. Olivier Dubois, French journalist, says in a video posted on social networks Wednesday, May 5, to have been kidnapped by a jihadist group in Mali a month earlier. Barefoot, sitting cross-legged in what looks like a tent, the freelance reporter who works for several media including Point and Release declares in front of the camera: “My name is Olivier Dubois. I am French. I am journalist. I was kidnapped in Gao on April 8, 2021 by the Support Group for Islam and Muslims (GSIM). I am addressing my family, my friends and the French authorities to do everything in their power to get me released. “
The Quai d’Orsay confirms to The cross this “ disappearance “And indicates to be” in contact with his family as well as with the Malian authorities ” and “Carry out the usual technical verifications “. The French soldiers who were able to meet on the ground the journalist installed in Mali since 2015 evoke “A great connoisseur of the region” of the Sahel, with “A lot of contacts”. “He is very honest, very correct, very impartial”, says one of them.
According to Wassim Nasr, journalist specializing in jihadist movements for France 24 (1), Olivier Dubois had “ appointment for an interview with a local jihadist commander, which led him to visit Gao “. ” He then disappeared on April 8, he continues. It went under the radar because there was doubt about his status: was he a hostage or a guest? He was either attracted by thugs who then sold him to a jihadist group, or directly by a terrorist group. “Reporters Without Borders Secretary General Christophe Deloire explained on Twitter that he had been informed of the kidnapping” two days after (the) disappearance From the journalist. But ” we have taken the decision not to make this hostage-taking public, so as not to hinder a possible rapid positive outcome. “
It is in this same town of Gao, in a country plagued by a strong security crisis, that humanitarian worker Sophie Pétronin was kidnapped by terrorists from GSIM, a group affiliated with the organization Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (Aqmi ), in December 2016. His freedom, along with that of three other hostages, was acquired in exchange for the release of 200 jihadists in Mali in October 2020.
Is this also the objective of the kidnappers of Olivier Dubois? There is nothing to indicate this at the moment. “ Capturing a Frenchman is a way of exerting pressure, explains Caroline Roussy, Africa researcher at the Institute of International and Strategic Relations (Iris). They can seek financial rents or ask for the release of jihadists. “The researcher also sees a” symmetry »With Emmanuel Macron’s martial speech at the G5 Sahel summit in N’Djamena (Chad), in February. The president had promised ” reinforced action “For” etry to behead these organizations »Terrorists. ” It can be a form of retaliation. The GSIM shows that it is still present and that it continues to impose its agenda on the Sahel », Decrypts Caroline Roussy, who recalls that jihadist groups are asking for the withdrawal of French troops from the region.