BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — An official confirmed that the leader of one of the most powerful cells of al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM, has decided to leave al-Qaida's branch in North Africa in order to create a movement spanning the entire Sahara desert.
The deputy mayor of a town in the Timbuktu region of northern Mali, who required anonymity out of fear for his safety, confirmed that AQIM 'katiba' leader Moktar Belmoktar had left the al-Qaida franchise.
The information was confirmed by Oumar Ould Hamaha, an associate of Belmoktar's, who said: "It's true. It's so that we can better operate in the field that we have left this group which is tied to the Maghreb." He said they want to take jihad to all the other countries in the Sahara.