|Mokhtar Belmokhtar||Khalid Abu Al Abbès||Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat||Africa North||Algerian||At Large||20071112||Link|
|Alias of Mokhtar Belmokhtar|
|Mokhtar Belmokhtar||Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat||North Africa||Algerian||At Large||20030516|
|Belaouar||Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat||Africa: North||Algerian||At Large||20050613||Link|
|Alias of Mokhtar Belmokhtar|
|Mokhtar Belmokhtar||Salafist Group for Call and Combat||North Africa||20030605|
|Mokhtar Belmokhtar||Salafist Group for Preaching and Fighting||Africa: North||20040620||Link|
|U.S. Says French Strike Likely Killed al-Qaida Ally Belmokhtar|
|[AnNahar] AlgerianMokhtar Belmokhtar, one of al-Qaeda's key allies in North Africa, is thought to have been killed in a French air strike, a U.S. official said Monday. |
The official, speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity, confirmed a report in the Wall Street Journal that U.S. intelligence had helped target the jihadist.
Belmokhtar, notorious commander of an al-Qaeda-linked faction of the al-Murabitoun jihadist group, has been reported killed on several previous occasions.
But the official told AFP the latest strike is believed finally to have killed the elusive one-eyed , known for kidnapping European citizens for ransom.
According to the Wall Street Journal report, citing experts and unnamed officials, the strike reflects closer U.S. and French intelligence cooperation.
Belmokhtar became one of the world's most in January 2013 after a spectacular assault on the In Amenas gas plant in Algeria left at least 38 hostages dead.
This year, his group for an attack on luxury a hotel in that killed another 20 people, most of them foreigners.
And reports he had arrived in Libya have fuelled concern that jihadists will take advantage of the political turmoil there to establish a base of operations.
Washington put a $5 million bounty on the 44-year-old's head, dubbing him the leader of the Khaled Abu al-Abbas Brigade, also known as the "Signatories in Blood."
In May last year, he insisted al-Murabitoun remained loyal to al-Qaeda, despite another of its leaders pledging allegiance the group.
Belmokhtar was born on June 1, 1972 in the ancient desert city of Ghardaia, 370 miles (600 kilometers) south of the Algerian capital.
- 'Mister Marlboro' -
In a rare 2007 interview he said he joined the mujahideen rebels fighting the Soviet forces in Afghanistan in 1991 when he was barely 19 years old.
In Afghanistan, he claimed, he lost an eye to shrapnel and had his first contact with the group that became al-Qaeda, eventually rising to a senior position.
He returned to Algeria in 1993, a year after the Algiers government sparked civil war by cancelling an election that an Islamist party was poised to win.
He joined the Armed Islamic Group (GIA), and thrived thanks to his intimate knowledge of the remote deserts of southern Algeria, northern Mali and Niger.
In 1998 the " " (GSPC) broke from the GIA and Belmokhtar went with them.
Nine years later, GSPC formally adopted the global ideology of Saudi-born jihadist kingpin and renamed itself al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.
Belmokhtar was best known as a smuggler, known by some as "Mister Marlboro" for trafficking cigarettes.
But in 2013 he emerged as the hardline leader of the "Signatories in Blood," blamed for attacks across the Sahara and the Sahel in Algeria, Mali, Chad and Niger.
|Woman arrested in Jufra ‘not Belmokhtar’s wife’ say officials|
|[Libya Herald] Reports that one of two Tunisian women near the Cyrenaican town of Mechili on Sunday was the wife of Mokhtar Belmolhtar, leader of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), have now been denied by officials in Libya,|
They say that there was confusion of the identity of the woman’s husband and that while she is indeed married to a terrorist, it is a different Mohktar.
Her husband is now said to be Mokhtar Ben Omar al-Agouri, a Tunisian who is also a member of AQIM.
It is thought that he is is Jufra, to which the woman caught in an ambush two days ago by LNA forces near Mechili, south of Labraq, was said to be heading.
It is nonetheless believed that Belmokhtar is based in Libya, albeit further south.
...Asma Kadousi, was arrested on Saturday along with a female companion en route from the militant stronghold of Darna, an eastern city, where she gave birth to a baby. Kadousi was reportedly heading to the central province of Joufra
|Wife of Mokhtar Belmokhtar captured in Cyrenaica|
|[Libya Herald] The wife of Mokhtar Belmokhtar, the Algerian-born head of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), is reported to have been tracked down and near the desert town of Mechili, some 100 kilometres south of Beida. She and another Tunisian woman, together with their driver, were caught heading towards Jufra, south of Sirte, according to the Libyan news agency LANA.|
It quotes the of the Beida government’s anti-terrorism and subversion directorate, Sami al-Matrih, saying that the women were ambushed following a tip-off.
It is being suggested that they were on their way to meet Belmokhtar in southern Libya. There is no other confirmation of the report, however.
A number of reports claim that Belmokhtar was the prime target of the air raid on Gurdah al-Shatti six days ago in which a number of AQIM fighters were said to have been killed.
Although the anti-terrorism directorate has said that the one of the two Tunisian women arrested is Belmokhtar’s wife, it has not named her.
It was not previously recorded known that he had a Tunisian wife. He is known to have had four but they were supposedly all from Mali.
Belmokhtar has used southern Libya as a base on numerous occasions. His notorious attack on the January 2013 seizure of the In Amenas gas facility in Algeria in which 40 people died, almost all foreigners, is believed to have been organised from Libya.
|Senior Libyan al-Qaeda leader reported slain in drone strike|
|[NEWS24] A senior al-Qaeda leader was reportedly killed in a late-night drone strike that hit his home in Libya's remote south, a Libyan news agency said on Tuesday.|
Yesterday the Libya Observer said he was still alive and suffering from minor wounds.
The strike was suspected to be the work of a Western military but a Pentagon spokesperson denied it was carried out by the United States.
The LANA news agency said that Abu Talha al-Hassnawi, a key figure in al-Qaeda's North African affiliate, was killed in his house in Sabha late on Monday.
According to the agency, al-Hassnawi was previously a leading member of al-Qaeda's affiliate in Syria, and was a leading recruiter of fighters heading to fight in Syria's vicious and complex conflict that has seen rival al-Qaeda and battle each other.
Al-Hassnawi was also purportedly close to a top once considered the most dangerous man in the Sahara - the one-eyed terror leader Mokhtar Belmokhtar, a former member of al-Qaeda's North Africa branch - and has been seen in his company in the past.
LANA also said that al-Hassnawi had fled to Sabha from the northern coastal city of Sirte, where Libyan militias and forces loyal to the UN-brokered government in the capital, , are battling the Islamic State affiliate with the help of US s.
The LANA news agency that reported al-Hassnawi's death is affiliated with the east-based government.
A resident who lives near Sabha said the strike took place at 23:15 on Monday and that it targeted a house the Gurtha Shati village on Sabha's outskirts.
The attack left seven bodies completely charred so it was impossible to identify al-Hassnawi, he added.
The locals knew that the al-Qaeda leader had been in the house but "no one can tell who is who" among the bodies, the witness said, fearing for his safety.
The witness also said he had seen al-Hassnawi together with Belmokhtar, whom a US drone strike failed to kill last year in the eastern Libyan town of Adjabiya, and that the two "came back from the fighting in Sirte."
It was not immediately possible to verify his account and local officials could not be reached for comment.
|Mali: One branch of Mourabitounes pledges fealty to ISIS|
|[PJMedia] Terrorists behind string of hotel attacks pledge allegiance to ISIS |
A West African Islamist group that has participated in a string of grisly attacks aimed at foreigners across multiple countries is now officially part of ISIS, the said Sunday.
"The Murabitin Brigade under leadership of Abul-Walid as-Sahrawi in northern Mali pledges allegiance to Shaykh and joins the Islamic State," ISIS' Amaq news agency said in a statement.
ISIS released a video in which as-Sahrawi reads a statement of allegiance, then masked fighters put their hands in team-style while reciting a pledge to al-Baghdadi. They then cheered "Allahu Akbar."
As-Sahrawi, an Algerian, pledged allegiance to ISIS last year, but it was not publicly recognized by the Islamic State. Divisions within al-Mourabitoun rendered that more of a personal declaration than speaking for the whole group. In particular, al-Mourabitoun co-founder Mokhtar Belmokhtar, also Algerian, was reportedly not on board. In December, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb announced that al-Mourabitoun was part of AQIM once again.
Al-Mourabitoun began as a merger of two jihadist groups: the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MOJWA), linked to as-Sahrawi, and Belmokhtar’s al-Mulathameen Brigade. Belmokhtar has maintained his loyalty to al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-
Al-Mourabitoun and AQIM attacked the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako, Mail, last November, killing 20 including American development expert Anita Ashok Datar. In January, the two groups attacked the the Cappuccino restaurant and Splendid Hotel in Ouagadougou, , killing 30 including two former members of the Swiss parliament and American missionary Michael James Riddering. In March, AQIM and al-Mourabitoun again teamed up for an attack on a beach resort in Grand-Bassam, Ivory Coast, killing 18.
[AnNahar] A Romanian mineworker kidnapped by an al-Qaida affiliate last year appeared in a video released Monday urging his government to secure his release as soon as possible. Iulian Ghergut, then a security officer, was taken on April 4, 2015, when five armed men attacked a manganese mine in Tambao, 220 miles (350 kilometers) northeast of Burkina Faso's capital Ouagadougou, officials said at the time.
Ghergut, heavily bearded and squinting slightly, says he is in good health in the video he dated September 21 of this year. Speaking in a thick accent in French, he says he thinks of his family, while pressing his family and the Romanian government itself to do everything possible to secure his release.
The clip was distributed by SITE, a group based just outside Washington that monitors extremist groups.
Ghergut was taken by Al-Murabitoun, led by one-eyed Algerian militant Mokhtar Belmokhtar. The group, which has since affiliated itself with al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, has claimed responsibility for several spectacular and bloody attacks in sub-Saharan Africa.
Kidnappings of foreigners, often for ransom, occasionally occur in Mali and Niger but not usually in Burkina Faso, a landlocked Sahel country.
|ISIS in Libya ‘could relocate’ from Sirte|
|To a "better firing position", no doubt|
[ENGLISH.ALARABIYA.NET] UN Secretary-General warned that ISIS fighters could set up new cells across Libya and north Africa as they are driven from their stronghold of Sirte.
Ban on Monday outlined the threat from foreign terrorist fighters (FTF) in Libya in a confidential report to the Security Council, obtained by Agence -Presse.
"The recent pressure against (ISIS) in Libya could lead its members, including FTFs, to relocate and regroup in smaller and geographically dispersed cells throughout Libya and in neighboring countries," Ban said in the report.
The defeat of ISIS fighters in Sirte "appears to be a distinct possibility", leading many to flee south as well as west, to Tunisia.
"The future impact of scattered combatants on southern local s may become an issue of concern," he said.
Libyan forces allied with the UN-backed government in have been battling to take Sirte from ISIS fighters for the past two months.
The coastal city is considered one of ISIS's most important rear bases outside of Syria and Iraq.
There are between 2,000 and 5,000 ISIS fighters from Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Mali, Morocco and Mauritania deployed in Sirte, Tripoli and Derna, according to the report.
Dozens of from Tunisia have returned home from Libya "with the intent to conduct attacks," it added.
The ties extend further afield, with funds from Libya sent to Ansar Bait al-Maqdis, a jihadist group that operates in Egypt's Sinai peninsula, the report said.
Ban said Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which is active in Mali and across the , continues to use Libya as a sanctuary and a base to buy arms and ammunition.
Mokhtar Belmokhtar, leader of the Al-Mourabitoun group active in the Sahel, is able to travel throughout Libya with relative ease while the head of in northern Mali, Iyad Ag Ghaly, maintains a foothold in southern Libya, the report said.
|Al-Qaida Claims Attack that Killed 4 in Mali's North|
|[An Nahar] Al-Qaeda's North African branch has claimed attacks in northern Mali that killed a Chinese U.N. peacekeeper and three civilians, the U.S.-based monitoring group SITE said Wednesday.|
The attacks on Tuesday come days after five U.N. peacekeepers were killed in an ambush in central Mali, as concern grows over the future of the U.N.'s deadliest active mission.
"Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) reported that its al-Murabitoun battalion engaged in a clash with 'Crusader occupation forces'," referring to the U.N. mission in Mali, SITE said, adding that the jihadists called it an "epic battle".
AQIM said in a statement its fighters were "thrashing" the enemy.
Al-Murabitoun, led by one-eyed Algerian Mokhtar Belmokhtar, has for several spectacular and bloody attacks in sub-Saharan Africa.
One attack on a U.N. camp in the northern town of Gao on Tuesday killed a peacekeeper and seriously three others, while a second armed attack on a U.N. de-mining unit killed two security guards and an international expert, the U.N. mission known by the acronym MINUSMA said.
At least 65 peacekeepers with the mission have been killed while on active service, while another four have died in "friendly fire" incidents, U.N. figures show.
|Algerians make arms find near Libyan border|
|[Libya Herald] The Algerian army announced today it uncovered a terrorist arms cache near the Libyan border.|
The Defence Ministry in Algiers said this evening that the find, near Bordj Badji Mokhtar in Adrar province, contained two powerful machine guns, a Kalashnikov, three grenades and almost a thousand rounds of assorted ammunition.
The circumstances of the discovery are unclear. the Algerian armed forces have increased the number of troops and boosted their border patrols following the January 2013 attack on the In Amenas gas plant in which 39 foreign hostages and an Algerian security guard died. That assault was mounted by a group loyal to Mokhtar Belmokhtar which was believed to have been armed and trained beforehand in Libya.
|5 U.N. Peacekeepers Killed in Mali Attack|
|At least five U.N. peacekeepers were killed in an ambush in central Mali by suspected on Sunday, the U.N. and police sources said.|
The attack is the first time the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Mali, MINUSMA, has recorded fatalities in the center of a country long beset by violence in its vast and desolate north.
"According to preliminary information, five peacekeepers were killed. Another was seriously hurt and is being evacuated," MINUSMA said in a statement.
The U.N. did not immediately confirm the nationality of the dead soldiers but a Bamako police source indicated a group of Togolese peacekeepers "came across a mine and a terrorist attack some 50 kilometers out of Mopti."
First reports had indicated four Togolese peacekeepers were killed in the mid-morning attack on a MINUSMA convoy some 30 kilometers (20 miles) west of the town of Sevare in Mopti region.
MINUSMA mission head Mahamat Saleh Annadif condemned the attack as an "odious" act of terror.
"I most strongly condemn this abject crime which adds to other terrorist acts targeting our peacekeepers and which constitute crimes against humanity under international law," said Annadif.
Sunday's attack came just two days after authorities reported five Malian soldiers killed and four Friday when their vehicles hit a mine in the north and then came under sustained fire.
Last week also saw five peacekeepers from Chad killed and three others in an ambush in the northeast by Ansar Dine jihadist fighters.
With Sunday's attack, at least 64 MINUSMA peacekeepers have been killed while on active service, while another four have died in friendly fire incidents, U.N. figures show.
The north has seen repeated violence since it fell under the control of Tuareg-led rebels who allied with jihadist groups linked to al-Qaeda in 2012.
The Islamists were largely ousted by an ongoing French-led military operation launched in January 2013, but they have since carried out sporadic attacks on security forces from desert hideouts.
Rival armed factions and smuggling networks mean the region has struggled for stability since Mali gained independence from former colonial power in 1960.
|Polisario Jihadist Abu Walid Al-Sahrawi Threatens MINURSO & Morocco|
|Islamist militant Abu Walid Al-Sahrawi, a member of the so-called People’s Army of Sahrawi Liberation (military branch of the polisario secessionist movement) who joined the terror organization ISIS, has threatened to attack MINURSO and foreign tourists in Sahara. In an audio recording aired by Al Jazeera, Abu Walid Al-Sahrawi has, for the first time, threatened overtly to attack members of the UN peacekeeping mission MINURSO.|
The MINURSO currently maintains a limited presence in the Sahara after Moroccan government drastically reduced its civilian personnel in retaliation for comments made by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
The polisario extremist has also threatened Moroccan security forces, popular tourist destinations and foreign targets in the region. In the audio, Abu Walid Al-Sahrawi also called on Muslims living in Morocco to support the Islamic Caliphate.
A confidential leaked e-mail sent to former US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton in January 2013 has exposed the secret deal the Algerian government reached with Algerian terrorist Mokhtar Belmokhtar to attack Moroccan interests in the Sahara
“According to sources with access to the Algerian intelligence agency DGSE, the Bouteflika government reached a highly secret understanding with Belmokhtar after the kidnapping in April 2012 of the Algerian consul in GAO (Mali)”, reveals the e-mail.
“Under this agreement, Belmokhtar concentrated his operations in Mali, and occasionally, with the encouragement of DGSE, attack Moroccan interests in Western Sahara, where the Algerians have territorial claims,” stresses the message made public by Wikileaks.
In 2011, an Italian and two Spanish aid workers were abducted from Tindouf camps, wherein Sahrawis are sequestered in Southern Algeria, and over the following years several polisario fighters were reported to have taken part in the militant Islamist advances in Mali. Top security experts have warned against the threat and collusion of the polisario fighters with Islamist extremist groups operating in the Sahel.
According to J. Peter Pham, director of the Washington–based think tank Atlantic Council’s Africa Center, the polisario should accept the Moroccan offer of autonomy, because an independent state would not be viable. “The last thing Africa needs is another failed state, and that’s exactly what Western Sahara would become if Morocco left,” he says.
|Mystery remains over Sirte airstrikes on IS|
|Pro tip: It's prolly the Brits.|
Could have been the Ruritanians...
Yesterday’s night raid by two aircraft is reported to have targeted buildings on the edge of the town, in the Al-Sabiha and Dahira districts. One site that was hit is said to have been a weapons store. A picture [above], purportedly taken some time today, shows black smoke billowing from a point which is hidden by other buildings.
Locals have said that they heard the sound of aircraft yesterday afternoon, which attracted ground fire from IS. Last Sunday, unidentified warplanes attacked a terrorist convoy, supposedly inflicting heavy casualties. Neither incident was reported by IS.
Warplanes from Egypt and the United States are known to have carried out raids in Libya. The UAE airforce was widely suspected of a series of airstrikes against Libya Dawn targets in September 2014.
In February last year, Egyptian aircraft attacked militants in Derna killing seven people, in response to the IS beheading of 21 Egyptian Christians on a Sirte beach.
Last November US warplanes killed IS terror leader Abu Nabil Al-Anbari in Derna. However, in June an American airstrike that obliterated a farm outside Ajdabiya apparently failed to kill the target, Algerian terrorist leader Mokhtar Belmokhtar.
A few days later another precision raid on the IS headquarters in Sirte killed 16 people and injured dozens more. No one claimed responsibility for that strike.
|AQIM shares responsibility for Mali hotel killings|
|[AA.TR] The head of an al-Qaeda group has claimed joint responsibility for the Nov. 20 hotel attack in Bamako, Mali, which left 19 people dead.|
, leader of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, released a video late Friday sharing responsibility for the deadly attack with another group, al-Mourabitoun.
The leader of that group, Algerian Mokhtar Belmokhtar, pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda last May.
Friday's video also denied that the two organizations had pledged allegiance to , describing the group as their enemy.
Formed in 2013, al-Mourabitoun is active in northern Mali and Africa's .