On 2 March 2017, Iyad Ag Ghaly, Al Murabitoun's deputy leader, Hassan Al Ansari, Yahya Abu Hammam, Amadou Kouffa, and Abu Abderaham al-Sanhaji appeared in a video declaring the creation of Nusrat al-Islam, and their allegiance to al-Qaeda Emir Ayman al-Zawahiri, AQIM's Emir, Abdelmalek Droukdel, and Taliban Emir, Hibatullah Akhundzada. They also praised killed al-Qaeda leaders Osama Bin Laden and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. On 16 March, Abdelmalek Droukdel released an audio message, approving the union between the groups. On 19 March, Al-Qaeda issued a statement approving the new group and accepting their oath of allegiance.
Two leaders sanctioned by the US Treasury's office were named as Ali Maychou and Bah Ag Moussa. Moussa was a former Malian army colonel who led an operation in March 2019 against the Malian Armed Forces base in Dioura that killed at least 21 Malian soldiers. Maychou was a native of Morocco who had claimed responsibility for a JNIM attack on a military camp that housed Malian troops in Gao, killing dozens. The Treasury office said Maychou held an operational role in JNIM's activities, while Moussa acted on behalf of JNIM's leader Iyad Ag Ghaly.
March 6, 2017: JNIM attacked a military checkpoint in Mali, killing 11 Malian soldiers.
March 15, 2017: JNIM again attacked a military post, killing 2 soldiers and two civilians.
March 22, 2017: JNIM fighters joined Fulani militias in a revenge assault against Bambara militias, killing 10 of them.
April 17, 2017: Two Chadian soldiers and one civilian were seriously injured, by a suspected JNIM IED planted in a road of Tessalit. On the same day, JNIM captured a Malian army base in Gourma-Rharous, killing four Malian troops, and wounding dozens of others. Also, the group seized many armed vehicles and ammunition, but later withdrew when French soldiers arrived. Six jihadists also killed during the battle.
April 29–30, 2017: Malian and Burkinabé forces conducted operations on the borders with Mali. This led to the destruction of what appeared to be an important logistical base JNIM ally, Ansar ul Islam. At least 20 militants were killed and Ansar ul Islam's arms and explosives were destroyed.
May 7, 2017: JNIM "commandos", led by a fighter named Ahmed al Ansari, conducted an assault in the city of Gao. The jihadists attacked and disabled a communications tower outside of Gao, then attacked a Malian army base inside the city with a suicide bomber. After the suicide bomber disabled many troops, the other jihadists entered the base, and battle ensued. The raid killed 7, wounded 16, and captured another 17 Malian soldiers. The group, also looted the base and seized weapons, ammunition, and at least 3 military vehicles. It is not known if the group suffered any casualties, other than a suicide bomber, but it withdrew after the sight of French troops.
May 15, 2017: JNIM attacked again the camp that attacked in May 3, with mortar shells, wounding more than 6 Burkinabé peacekeepers, and 3 Malian soldiers.
June 9, 2017: JNIM mortars killed 3 UN peacekeepers and wounded 8 more in an army base in Kidal.
June 18, 2017: Gunmen attacked a resort complex outside Bamako. Three civilians and two military personnel were killed, along with four attackers. JNIM claimed responsibility.