For John, BLUF: Al Qaeda groups fighting in Mali are in a relationship with the late Osama bin Laden's group.
Yes, this is a link to an older blog post at Gunpowder and Lead, but, it is not outdated. It is a discussion of "Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and Al Qaeda’s Senior Leadership". It is a longish article, but parts can be safely skimmed.
Regards — Cliff