An undated grab from a video obtained by ANI Mauritanian news agency reportedly shows former Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) emir Mokhtar Belmokhtar speaking at an undisclosed location. Islamists held 41 foreigners hostage, including seven Americans, after an attack on a gas field in eastern Algeria on January 16. The Algerian military launched on January 17, 2013 an air and ground assault on a desert gas complex where Islamists were holding hostages, one of the kidnappers told the ANI news agency. FP PHOTO / HO / ANI ==RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / HO / ANI" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS ==

Al-Mourabitoune, an Islamist militant group in West Africa, pledged allegiance to Islamic State, which is fighting in Iraq, Syria and Libya.

The militants said they will follow Islamic State’s Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, al-Akhbar newspaper reported, citing an audio recording from the group.

Militants in West Africa, including Boko Haram, have started aligning with Islamic State in the past few months as the group tries to expand. Al-Mourabitoune focused attacks in North and West Africa, including killing more than a dozen hostages in 2013 at an Algerian gas plant.

Mokhtar Belmokhtar, the one-eyed former Algerian soldier, leads al-Mourabitoune. The group says it was responsible for an attack on a night club in Mali’s capital, Bamako, this year that killed five people.