Country Reports on Terrorism 2013 - Foreign Terrorist Organizations: al-Mulathamun Battalion
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Publication Date||30 April 2014|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, Country Reports on Terrorism 2013 - Foreign Terrorist Organizations: al-Mulathamun Battalion, 30 April 2014, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/5362299d12.html [accessed 28 April 2017]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
aka al-Mulathamun Brigade; al-Muwaqqi'un bil-Dima; Those Signed in Blood Battalion; Signatories in Blood; Those who Sign in Blood; Witnesses in Blood; Signed-in-Blood Battalion; Masked Men Brigade; Khaled Abu al-Abbas Brigade; al-Mulathamun Masked Ones Brigade; al-Murabitoun; The Sentinels
Description: The al-Mulathamun Battalion (AMB) was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on December 19, 2013. Originally part of al-Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), AMB became a separate organization in late 2012 after its leader, Mokhtar Belmokhtar, split from AQIM. In Belmokhtar's first public statement after the split, he threatened to fight against Western interests and announced the creation of the sub-battalion, "Those Who Sign in Blood." In August 2013, AMB and the Mali-based Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) announced that the two organizations would merge under the name "al-Murabitoun."
Activities: AMB's Those Who Sign in Blood sub-battalion claimed responsibility for the January 2013 attack against the Tiguentourine gas facility near In Amenas, in southeastern Algeria. Over 800 people were taken hostage during the four-day siege, resulting in the death of 39 civilians, including three U.S. citizens. Seven other Americans escaped the attack.
Before their merger, in May 2013, AMB cooperated with MUJAO in twin suicide bombings in northern Niger on a Nigerien military base in Agadez and a French uranium mine in Arlit. The coordinated attacks killed at least 20 people, including all of the attackers; 12 additional suspects were arrested after the attack.
Throughout the year, AMB members have also been involved in clashes with French forces stationed in northern Mali.
Strength: Membership levels of AMB are unknown; however, the newly formed al-Murabitoun terrorist group constitutes the greatest near-term threat to U.S. and international interests in the Sahel, because of its publicly stated intent to attack Westerners and proven ability to organize complex attacks.
Location/Area of Operation: Algeria, southwestern Libya, Mali, and Niger
Funding and External Aid: In addition to the support it may receive through its connections to other terrorist organizations in the region, AMB is likely funded through kidnapping ransoms and other criminal activities.