North African Terror Groups Merge

A new terror group in North Africa has been formed from the merger of the Masked Battalion with Tawhid wal-Jihad, and security sources expect it to conduct a major terror strike soon.

Topics covered

terrorism, terror, salafist gunmen, salafist, algeria

Aug 26, 2013

The security agencies of the countries of the Maghreb, the Sahel and southern Europe have warned of major terrorist operations that may surpass the January 2013 Tigantourine operation. The warning came after the inception of a new terrorist organization called al-Mourabitoun. The security reports indicated that there are efforts underway to merge al-Qaeda in the Maghreb and the Sahel, Ansar al-Din and terrorist battalions active in Tunisia.

Security reports circulating in several countries, including Algeria, claimed that terrorists in the new al-Mourabitoun organization, which was founded by merging the Masked Battalion with the Tawhid wal-Jihad group in West Africa, is planning a major terrorist strike against an important Western target in the countries that the takfiri group considers legitimate targets: Tunisia, Morocco, Libya and Egypt.

High-level security sources said that the announcement of al-Mourabitoun’s birth is a sign to sleeper cells and terrorist elements in the desert to carry out operations that have been agreed upon in advance between the leaders of the Masked Battalion and Tawhid wal-Jihad, just as occurred eight months ago, when the establishment of the Undersigned in Blood Battalion was announced. A few weeks after that announcement, the Tigantourine operation took place in Algeria.

According to security sources, the de facto leader of the new terrorist group remains Mokhtar Belmokhtar despite his announcement to officially step down as leader of the emirate. Belmokhtar, the founder of Salafist jihadist groups in the Sahel, wishes to stay out of the limelight to escape from the overt and covert military operations being conducted by the West and local forces to capture him. Belmokhtar also wants to make it easier for al-Qaeda elements belonging to the Desert Brigades to join the new organization after he, and all al-Qaeda dissidents, step down.

The same sources added that the establishment of al-Mourabitoun is designed to earn the loyalty of terrorists in Tunisia and Libya, sleeper cells in Morocco and active cells in Egypt, in order to create a major international organization, as expressed in al-Mourabitoun’s statement, which said its field of activity is “from the Nile to the [Atlantic] Ocean.”

The first goal of this organization, according to the same sources, is to annex the branch of the al-Qaeda in the Sahel organization and terrorists in Tunisia and Libya. Security sources have indicated that Tunisian terrorists have sworn allegiance to the new emir, whose identity the organization’s top echelons wish to keep secret. That secret leader is believed to be an important leader in the international al-Qaeda organization. There is also some information about unremitting efforts to admit the jihadists in Tunisia to the new movement.

Security observers in the Sahel have linked the announcement of the new terrorist group to several regional and international developments, including in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt. This means that the new organization will be active outside of the Sahel and the Arab Maghreb, and east of where al-Qaeda in the Maghreb has traditionally been active.

That was confirmed by al-Mourabitoun’s founding manifesto, which said, “Your brothers in the Masked Brigade and Tawhid wal-Jihad in West Africa declare that they are uniting in one group called al-Mourabitoun in preparation to unite the Muslims’ word in a single project, from the Nile to the [Atlantic] Ocean.”

According to our sources, the terrorist groups in northern Mali have learned their lesson from France’s Operation Wild Cat, which, even though it did not eliminate Salafist jihadist leaders, did come to an end with the least possible French losses.

The French military operation succeeded in expelling thousands of militants belonging to four well-armed organizations: Tawhid wal-Jihad, the Masked Brigade, Ansar al-Din and al-Qaeda. The operation succeeded because the four organizations had no unified command that directed their military and security operations in the field. And this what al-Mourabitoun wants to rectify.

Continue reading this article by registering at no cost and get unlimited access to:
  • Al-Monitor Archives
  • The Week in Review
  • Exclusive Events
  • Invitation-only Briefings

More from  Mohammad Ben Ahmad