One of the lions of Islam, a grand-child of Youssef Ibn Tacheffine had smashed his car, loaded with explosives into a military fortress, to kill soldiers of the apostasy, and for those who would escape, to live the rest of their lives in the terror of what happened to them during that holy night[.]¹
Taqadoumy and ANI have both produced stories identifying the bomber as named a Mauritanian named Idriss Ould Yarba (alias “Abu Isshaq al-Shanqiti” or Chingueitti/Chinguiti, etc.; also being identified as Idriss Mohamed Ould Lemine). Abu Isshaq was resident in Nouakchott (though originally from Kiffa) before joining AQIM and training in the camps in northern Mali in 2005. He participated in “several armed confrontations” with the Algerians and Malians (and Tuaregs) before being arrested by the Malians in 2008. The Malians exchanged him, with three others, in exchange for two Canadian hostages in 2009. His association with AQIM continued afterward, participating in the killing of a Malian army officer in June 2009 at Timbuktu before his final mission to include the recent attack at Nema. He also appeared in AQIM propaganda videos (much like the fellow mentioned here). Like the perpetrator of Mauritania’s fist suicide bombing in August, 2009, Ould Yarba is of Haratine origin.
UPDATE: CRIDEM and other outlets, quoting an AQIM release, have identified the bomber as Idriss Mohamed Ould Lemine, though other newspapers and sites are still using Idriss Ould Yarba. CRIDEM outlines his carrier with AQIM: he studied at a mahadhra (religious school; it does not say where) until 2003, becoming an activist before joining Belmokhtar’s Moulethemine kitabat in 2005; he appeared in a 2007 video with the head of AQIM’s southern zone; in 2009 he was arrested on his return to Timbuktu, Mali following a reconnaissance mission in Niger. CRIDEM writes that Abu Isshaq “did not participate in the murder” of the Malian officer at Timbuktu (“contrary to what has been reported by the Mauritanian media”). CRIDEM writes that he was released in exchange for Malian prisoners and does not mention the Canadian exchange. It also notes that Abu Isshaq is the second suicide bomber in Mauritania and the third Mauritanian suicide bomber, the first being the perpetrator of a bombing in Bouira, Algeria in 2008.
More information will become available in coming days clarifying the confusion around his name and his experience with Malian authorities.
1. Youssef Ibn Tacheffine (Yusuf Ibn Tashfin) was a great military leader of the Almoravids, the austere medieval Berber [Amazigh] dynasty that rose from the south-western Sahara to conquer much of North Africa and then the rotting Muslim statelets in Iberia, vulnerable to Christian aggression but fortified after the Almoravid advance. His early rise to power inspired fear and respect among his rivals, so much so that they often abandoned their own political ambitions to make way for him. The Almoravids were known for their religious rigor and warrior spirit. AQIM has repeatedly appealed to this history when referring to Mauritanian members and the country in general. Their calls to the “people of the land of the Mourabitun (the Almoravids),” their kitabat names (Tariq ibn Ziyad), their media operation (al-Andalus) and so on are linked to this effort to link themselves to the medieval Maghrebine heritage.