While names like ISIS (or Daesh), Boko Haram, FARC, and Al-Qaeda ring familiar to many, one of the world’s deadliest groups – and potentially fastest-growing – is one most Americans are likely not familiar with.Operating in the semi-arid Sahel region that unfolds south of the Sahara Desert, Jama’at Nusra al-Islam wa al-Muslimeen (JNIM, also known as the Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims, or GSIM) made its existence public with a March 2017 announcement merging four armed groups, many of them with links or suspected links to Al-Qaeda. Operating primarily on the fringes of Mali – where state control is limited – the group represents one of the greatest challenges to stability in Africa and potentially the wider Mediterranean.While the group’s forerunners made their names in a variety of conflicts – including involvement in the Algerian civil war and cigarette smuggling across the Sahara – JNIM’s primary modus operandi is its attacks on UN peacekeepers, French and Malian troops, and local politicians and village elders. Led by a former international diplomat turned terrorist, Iyad Ag Ghali, the group has embraced its Al-Qaeda connections, receiving the blessing of Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Zawahiri. By exploiting ongoing instability that predates the group and ethnic grievances that extend across the Sahel, JNIM succeeded in inserting itself as a force to be reckoned with in the wider region.The pattern of JNIM attacks also suggests a growing confidence in its abilities. The militant group initially focused its attacks on the periphery of the northern Malian frontier.