Al-Murabitun, which formed in 2013 as a merger of al-Mulathamun Battalion and another AQIM splinter group, is one of the four extremist groups that merged to form Jama‘at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM) in 2017. Historically, the group conducted high-profile attacks against local and foreign targets in northwest Africa as part of a campaign to build a Salafi-Islamist state and expel Western influence. The group ascribed to al-Qa‘ida’s ideology and swore allegiance to the amirs of
al-Qa‘ida, the Taliban, AQIM, and JNIM. In 2015, a faction of the group defected to ISIS, eventually becoming ISIS’s Sahel network, while former amir Mokhtar Belmokhtar’s faction retained its al-Qa‘ida affiliation and eventually joined JNIM after Belmokhtar’s death.
Based primarily in North and West Africa; conducts operations primarily in Mali; previously operated in in Algeria, Burkina Faso, Libya, Mali, and Niger.
TACTICS AND TARGETS
Al-Murabitun now operates as a part of JNIM, which claims responsibility for the group’s operations. Before becoming a part of JNIM, the group used small arms and explosives to attack civilian targets frequented or run by foreigners, including restaurants, hotels, mines, and energy facilities. It also targeted Malian, French, and UN forces in Mali, using small arms, machine guns, landmines, mortars, improvised explosive devices, and suicide car bombings.
FOREIGN TERRORIST GROUP DESIGNATION
The US State Department designated al-Mulathamun Battalion as a foreign terrorist organization in December 2013. The US Treasury Department designated the group’s now-deceased founder, Mokhtar Belmokhtar, as a terrorist in 2013.