Kirk Woodman, a Canadian geologist working for a Vancouver-based mining company, Progress Minerals Inc., was found dead in Oudalan province, north-east Burkina Faso, on 16 January 2019. Woodman had been kidnapped the previous day from a mining camp. Ouagadougou announced that Woodman had been killed the following day. Woodman’s body was described as “bullet-riddled”. It was noted by one outlet that Woodman had been taken in “a border region infiltrated by jihadis”, but not very much more has been said of the case in the last two months. On 28 March, the Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the murder in the 175th edition of its weekly newsletter, Al-Naba.
Al-Naba 175 has an article, “Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso: A Wide Jihad Field Against the Crusaders and Apostates” (pp. 8-9), which tells a narrative of a decade-long struggle by jihadists in West Africa, much of it out of sight of the media, and with considerable success, especially given the enemies ranged against them—namely the local governments, the tribes and rebel groups that side with those governments (“formed Sahwa factions”, as Al-Naba has it), and the “Crusader” planes in the sky, sometimes accompanied by their armies, particularly that of France, on the ground.
Al-Naba retells the story of Mali, where a secessionist rebellion gave way to a jihadist emirate that drew in direct French intervention in 2013. Al-Naba insists that its enemies took heavy losses, including France. IS particularly celebrates a suicide car bomb against a French convoy on the road between Menaka and Ansongo, near the tri-border with Burkina Faso and Niger, naming the killer as Hassan Uthman al-Ansari. The attack, which took place on 21 February 2018, is claimed by Al-Naba to have killed five Frenchmen, and the French claims of lower casualties are dismissed.
Al-Naba adumbrates its progress in Niger, referencing IS overrunning a barracks in Diffa, a clash “near the Taylwa area on the border with Mali” that apparently killed nineteen “apostates”, and, of course, the 4 October 2017 ambush that killed four U.S. special operations forces personnel near the village of Tongo Tongo.The Burkina Faso section is subtitled, “The Abduction of a Crusader and His Liquidation in Burkina Faso”. Al-Naba says that the mujahideen in Burkina Faso are “fighting a war similar to that of their brothers in Niger and Mali” with the enemies being “almost one”: “the crusader armies command the armies of the taghut, who in turn mobilises an apostate Awakening”. Before adding that an important event in attracting Western attention to jihadi operations in Burkina Faso was the “kidnapping of a Canadian crusader and his killing by the soldiers of the caliphate.
Woodman is named directly by Al-Naba, along with a mini-biography, taken it seems from Western media reports. “The mujahideen carried out the kidnapping and killing of the Crusader near the city of Gorom, near the border with Niger”, says Al-Naba. “Adding to the fears of the crusaders about this blessed operation”, Al-Naba adds, is the fact that Woodman was a senior official “in a company engaged in exploration for gold in West Africa” and this assassination threatens this industry that “generates millions of dollars for the crusader economies annually”.
The article concludes with a promise to keep fighting the enemies of God.