Mokhtar Belmokhtar united his group, the al-Mulathameen Brigade, with Ahmed el Tilemsi’s Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa to form the al-Murabitoon. The new group has praised the emirs of al Qaeda and the Taliban.
Mohamed Lahbous, a member of the al Qaeda-linked Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa, was listed as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist for his involvement in kidnapping, weapons smuggling, and armed attacks in Algeria.
The Justice Department charged Mokhtar Belmokhtar, the leader of al Qaeda’s al Mua’qi’oon Biddam, or Those Who Sign in Blood Brigade, with eight terrorism-related charges.
The $7 million reward for Abubakar Shekau, Boko Haram’s emir, puts him in the top echelon of wanted terrorist leaders. Rewards of $5 million are also offered for Mokhtar Belmokhtar and Yahya Abu Hammam.
Mokhtar Belmokhtar is alive, and announced that his al Mua’qi’oon Biddam, or Those Who Sign in Blood Brigade, carried out the suicide assaults in Niger in conjunction with MUJAO.
Hamad el Khairy, the head of the MUJAO’s sharia committee, said reports of Belmokhtar’s death are “merely unfounded lies” and have “no basis of truth.”
Photos have surfaced from Chadian soldiers depicting what they claim is the corpse of Mokhtar Belmokhtar. French news services have said the images depict recently reported killed al Qaeda commander Abou Zeid. Jihadist sources deny the images depict either man.
Evidence is mounting that AQIM leader Abdel Mejid Abou Zeid was recently killed in clashes with French and African security forces, but conflicting reports have emerged as to the events leading to his alleged death. Algerian authorities are conducting DNA analysis on the supposed remains of Abou Zeid.