Authorities in Mali on Thursday arrested the suspected mastermind behind last year’s deadly attacks on hotels in the West African nation, BBC News reported. Fawaz Ould Ahmeida of Mauritania is accused of planning, among others, the November raid on the Radisson Blu hotel in the capital of Bamako that left at least 20 people dead.
Malian security officials told the media outlet Friday that Ahmeida was plotting to launch attacks on Western targets in Bamako this weekend. He is allegedly a member of the militant group al-Murabitoun, an affiliate of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb that claimed responsibility for the Radisson Blu attack.
Jihadi gunmen stormed into the luxury hotel in the center of Mali’s capital on Nov. 20, taking 170 people hostage and leaving dead bodies scattered across the building. Security forces subsequently launched a counterassault at the hotel to free the remaining hostages, and French President François Hollande pledged to provide “necessary support” to help Mali. The siege came on the heels of the deadly terror attacks in Paris and one day after Hollande praised his troops for successfully fighting Islamic militants in Mali, a former French colony.
Five months later, authorities detained Ahmeida in a Bamako suburb for his alleged role in the hotel raid and others. They found numerous weapons and explosives allegedly in Ahmeida’s possession at the time of his arrest. He is one of several people arrested by Malian officials in the past month suspected of involvement in attacks in the country and neighboring Ivory Coast.
In addition to the Radisson Blu attack, Ahmeida is accused of being involved in a siege on the Terrace Bar and Restaurant in Bamako in March 2015; five people were killed. He is also believed to have orchestrated the raid on the Byblos Hotel in central Mali in August, in which 13 people died. He is also implicated in an attack on the Azalai Nord-Sud Hotel in Bamako last month, where the European Union mission in the country is based, according to BBC News.