Ansar Dine means "helpers of the (Islamic) religion" or "defenders of the faith" in Arabic. Ansar Dine is a militant Islamist group led by Iyad Ag Ghaly, one of the most prominent leaders of the Tuareg rebellion in the 1990s. He is suspected of having ties with Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (as well as other splinter Islamist groups) which is led by his cousin Hamada Ag Hama. Ansar Dine wants the imposition of strict Sharia law across Mali. The group's first action was in March 2012. The organization is not to be confused with the Sufi movement Ançar Dine, started in Southern Mali by Chérif Ousmane Haidara in the 1980s, which is fundamentally opposed to militant Islamism.
The group is opposed to Sufi shrines.