Al-Mourabitoun’s Emergence

In response to rumors that Mokhtar Belmokhtar’s al-Mulathamun Brigade (AMB) had split with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Magreb (AQIM) in early 2013, analyst Aaron Zelin told Reuters that AQIM appeared to have initiated a “controlled fragmentation.”Myra MacDonald, “Belmokhtar burnishes jihadi credentials with Algeria attack,” Reuters, January 17, 2013, The August 2013 merger of the AMB with the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) to form al-Mourabitoun received widespread coverage because of Belmokhtar’s infamy as an al-Qaeda commander and the AMB/MUJAO joint attack on a French uranium mine earlier that year.“Belmohktar’s militants ‘merge’ with Mali’s Mujao,” BBC News, August 22, 2013,; “Sahara jihadist groups merge, threaten French interests – report,” Reuters, August 22, 2013, Since its emergence, al-Mourabitoun has specifically targeted French interests in the region, attracting the attention of Western media.Robbie Corey-Boulet, “Website: Terror group threatens France over Mali,” Associated Press, January 6, 2014,; Adama Diarra, “French troops kill deputy to veteran Islamist Belmokhtar,” Reuters, November 21, 2013,