Established By: Mokhtar Belmokhtar;
Also Known As: AMB, Brigade of the Masked Ones;
Operational Area: North and West Africa;
Involved In: Kidnapping, Assasinations, Armed Attacks, Bomb Attacks;
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Al-Mulathameen Brigade, also known as Brigade of the Masked Ones, is a terrorist militant organisation active in North and West Africa founded and led by Mokhtar Belmokhtar. Belmokhtar was previously a member of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb terrorist group.
The U.S. State Department declared the group as Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) since December 18, 2013. In 2013 Al-Mulathameen merged with Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa to form Al-Mourabitoun.
In 2017 Al-Mourabitoun merged with the Saharan branch of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Ansar Dine, and Macina Liberation Front to form Jama’at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin. Despite its split from AQIM, the AMB claimed to remain loyal to the ideology and command of Al Qaeda Central.
The Al-Mulathameen was primarily financed by kidnapping for ransom, regional arms and drug trafficking operations masterminded by leader Mokhtar Belmokhtar.
Belmokhtar built lucrative smuggling routes throughout the Sahel in the early 2000s, made possible because of his family ties to the local tribes in Mali, allegedly formed through his marriages to four women from local Arab and Tuareg communities.
Campaign of violence:
January 16, 2013: AMB forces took control of a British Petroleum gas complex near the town of In Amenas, in southeastern Algeria and held Algerian and foreign workers hostage in retaliation for Algeria permitting France to use its airspace to launch attacks against the rebel forces in northern Mali.
The crisis ended on January 19 when the Algerian military intervened. Those killed included 39 hostages and 29 attackers. May 23, 2013: The AMB and MUJAO carried out simultaneous, coordinated suicide bombing attacks against a military camp in Agadez, Niger and a French-run uranium mine in Arlit, Niger (25 killed, 20 wounded).
June 1, 2013: The AMB and MUJAO attacked a prison in Niamey, Niger with small arms, permitting 22 inmates to escape. The militant groups claimed that the attacks were in retaliation for Niger’s military intervention, which drove them out of northern Mali in January (2 killed, 3 wounded).