AQIM confirms death of former MUJAO spokesman


Oumar Ould Hamaha can be seen in the top left corner, identified as a “martyr.” 

The Sahara branch of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), also known as the Sahara Emirate, confirmed the death of Oumar Ould Hamaha in a recently released video. Until his death, Hamaha was the former spokesman of the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), originally a splinter group of AQIM.

In the video, AQIM referred to Hamaha as a “martyr.” In March 2014, Malian sources said that Hamaha was killed alongside Abu Walid al Sahrawi by a French airstrike in the Tigharghar mountains in northern Mali. The French military never confirmed his death and AQIM actually denied his death one month later. However, Hamaha stopped releasing statements and other spokesmen were used by MUJAO and its successor group, Al Murabitoon.

MUJAO merged with Mokhtar Belmokhtar’s Al Mulathameen Brigade in 2013 to form Al Murabitoon, swearing allegiance to al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri. Abu Walid al Sahrawi survived the French airstrike, eventually taking up a leadership position with Al Murabitoon after a series of emirs. Sahrawi defected to the Islamic State in May 2015, but it is unclear how many fighters from Al Murabitoon went with him. (See LWJ report, Confusion surrounds West African jihadists’ loyalty to Islamic State.)

Al Murabitoon has since rejoined 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.

Caleb Weiss is an editor of FDD's Long War Journal and a senior analyst at the Bridgeway Foundation, where he focuses on the spread of the Islamic State in Central Africa.

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