Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb’s (AQIM) media outlet, Ifriqiyah Muslimah, has released a photograph of the gunmen who carried out the attack on the Radisson Blu hotel in Mali’s capital of Bamako earlier this month.
The two gunmen, identified as Abdul Karim and Muaz al Fulani, stormed the Radisson Blue in Bamako, killing 22 civilians and taking more than 100 people hostage before being killed in a joint raid led by Malian forces. The Al Murabitoon said it was responsible in conjunction with the “Sahara Emirate” of AQIM, according to a statement sent to Al Jazeera. Another jihadist group, the Macina Liberation Movement, a front of the al Qaeda group Ansar Dine, which is itself a front of AQIM, also claimed the attack. However, this photo released by AQIM provides more confirmation of the group’s claim.
The attack in Bamako heralded the reintigration of Al Murabitoon into AQIM. On Dec. 4, AQIM’s Al Andalus Media released an audio statement from Abdelmalek Droukdel, the emir of AQIM, announcing the merger of Al Murabitoon into its ranks. The same statement also said that the Bamako attack was the first joint assault carried out by the two.
Al Murabitoon is led by Mokhtar Belmokhtar, a veteran African jihadist who is openly loyal to Ayman al Zawahiri and has denounced the Islamic State. Belmokhtar was originally a commander in AQIM before splitting with the group over personal disagreements with Droukdel and other leaders. Belmokhtar and his followers have been behind several spectacular attacks in West Africa over the past several years, including the January 2013 suicide assault on the In Amenas gas facility in southeastern Algeria, and the May 2013 suicide assaults in Niger that targeted a military barracks and a uranium mine.