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Database: Identifiers of Designated Islamic Terrorist Organizations
Designated as terrorist by: Canada (as part of al-Murabitun), United Kingdom (as part of al-Murabitun), United Nations, United States
Base of operations: Algeria, Mali
Formerly part of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, al-Mulathamun Battalion ("the Masked Battalion") became independent when its commander, the one-eyed veteran of the Afghan jihad Mokhtar Belmokhtar, split from the group in 2012: though it must be emphasized Belmokhtar remains loyal to al-Qaeda ideologically. Al-Mulathamun Battalion's most notable campaign involved the seizure of an Algerian natural gas facility in January 2013, which left at least 37 workers, including three Americans, dead. Belmokthar had previously called for attacks on Western targets. Al-Muwaqi'un bil-Dima ("Those Who Sign with Blood") is a subunit of al-Mulathamun Battalion, which in turn has been merged into a larger jihadist entity named al-Murabitun ("the Sentinels"). According to the U.S. State Department, this new organization "constitutes the greatest near-term threat to U.S. and Western interests in the Sahel."
Some controversy has come up over whether al-Murabitun has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. An audio message from one Adnan Abu Walid al-Sahrawi was released in May 2015 claiming to speak for the group and pledging allegiance, but another message attributed to Belmokhtar denied it, and the most likely scenario seems to be that at least a portion of the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) faction within al-Murabitun pledged allegiance.
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