Three prominent Islamic extremist groups in Mali have merged into one, and pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda’s leader Iyad Ag-Ghali.

The merger increases the threat of insecurity not only to Mali but also to neighboring West African countries which until recently had been relatively free of deadly attacks from extremist groups.

The declaration comes just a week after former Tuareg separatist rebels began joint patrols with Malian forces in northern Mali, a key step forward for a 2015 peace deal, with the aim of countering the various extremist threats and other sources of insecurity in the region.

Security Expert Kach Ononuju joined us earlier to speak on this.