Terrorist Designation of the al-Mulathamun Battalion
Originally part of al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the al-Mulathamun Battalion 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,” reportedly made up of the organization’s best fighters. Soon after, the sub-battalion claimed responsibility for the January 2013 attack against a gas facility near In-Amenas, Algeria. The four-day siege resulted in the death of at least 38 civilians, including three United States citizens. Seven other Americans escaped the attack.
In May 2013, the al-Mulathamun Battalion cooperated with the E.O. 13224-designated Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) in twin suicide bombings in Niger, which killed at least 20 people. In August 2013, the al-Mulathamun Battalion and MUJAO announced that the two organizations would merge under the name “al-Murabitoun.” The newly formed al-Murabitoun extremist group constitutes the greatest near-term threat to U.S. and Western interests in the Sahel.
Both the “Those Who Sign in Blood” battalion and “al-Murabitoun” are included in the designation as aliases of the al-Mulathamun Battalion, and, as a result, all consequences of these designations will also apply to them.