Citing Mauritania’s ANI news agency, press reports indicate that the two jihadists are Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman (a.k.a. the “Blind Sheikh”) and Aafia Siddiqui (a.k.a. “Lady Al Qaeda”).

Sheikh Rahman was the spiritual head of the two leading Egyptian jihadist groups, Gamaa Islamiyya (IG) and Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ). The latter group was headed by Ayman al Zawahiri, who merged his organization into al Qaeda. Rahman has long been revered by al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, who was influenced by the Blind Sheikh, repeatedly demanded his release…

The group responsible for the raid in Algeria and the hostage-swap proposal is headed by Mokhtar Belmokhtar, an infamous al Qaeda commander. In December, Belmokhtar’s spokesman said that he remains loyal to al Qaeda central even though he has broken off from al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Belmokhtar’s new group has been calling itself the “Those who Sign with Blood” brigade.