Country Reports on Terrorism 2014 - Foreign Terrorist Organizations: al-Mulathamun Battalion

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.

AMB's attacks continued in 2014. In February, AMB claimed responsibility for attacking French forces with rockets near the Timbuktu airport. In May, AMB claimed responsibility for an attack against a military base and a separate car bomb attack against a mine in Agadez region, Niger, which wounded 14 employees. In July, AMB claimed responsibility for a car bomb targeting a patrol of French soldiers in Gao, Mali, which killed one and wounded seven.

Strength: Membership levels of AMB are unknown; however, the al-Murabitoun terrorist group constitutes one of the greatest near-term threats 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, 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.


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