- Mali-born preacher Amadou Koufa is blamed for multiple attacks on Western interests in the Sahel.
- He has won a following among the young with fiery sermons urging a hard-line form of Islam.
- Amadou Koufa's blacklisting comes two days after France said it had killed another top JNIM leader, Ali Maychou.
The United States on Thursday designated Mali-born preacher Amadou Koufa as a terrorist, putting a new focus on stopping the militant blamed for multiple attacks on Western interests in the Sahel.
Koufa -- a member of the Fulani, a long-impoverished herding community -- has won a following among the young with fiery sermons urging a hard-line form of Islam that have been disseminated widely by mobile app WhatsApp.
He is a senior figure in the JNIM, or Group to Support Islam and Muslims, which has sworn allegiance to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.
The State Department said the alliance, itself designated as terrorist last year, is to blame for the deaths of more than 500 civilians since 2017.