Chadian military forces in Mali claimed to have killed fugitive al Qaeda affiliate Mokhtar Belmokhtar, the mastermind behind the deadly terrorist assault against an Algerian gas plant in January, during a dramatic counterterrorism operation in northern Mali today.
“On Saturday, March 2, at noon, Chadian armed forces operating in northern Mali completely destroyed a terrorist base …. The toll included several dead terrorists, including their leader Mokhtar Belmokhtar,” Chadian armed forces spokesman General Zacharia Gobongue said on a Chadian television station. The statement also noted that weapons, equipment, and 60 vehicles were seized, according to the BBC. As this is a developing situation and Belmokhtar’s death has not yet been confirmed by additional sources, the reports must be taken with caution.
Yesterday Chadian forces claimed to have killed Abdel Mejid Abou Zeid, a top al Qaeda leader who serves as the deputy to Yahya Abu Hammam, the head of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb’s operations in the Sahel region of North Africa.
Zeid leads the Taregh Ibn Ziyad brigade, which operates throughout Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and southern Algeria. Zeid’s brigade is responsible for the beheading of British hostage Edwin Dyer in May 2009. Algerians, Mauritanians, Malians, and Moroccans are known to fight with both Hammam and Zeid. [See LWJ report, US adds senior AQIM commander to terrorist list.]
So far, the French ministry of foreign affairs has not confirmed Zeid’s death, but officials are awaiting results of a DNA test that has been conducted on the remains supposedly belonging to Zeid, according to France 24 News.
Chadian military forces are reported to have entered Mali around Jan. 22 as part of a regional African military force seeking to thwart the Islamist takeover in the country.
Background on Belomakhtar
Belmokhtar has been tied to jihadists in North Africa and Central Asia. He waged jihad against the Soviets in the 1980s, and fought in Algeria’s civil war in the 1990s with the al Qaeda-linked Armed Islamic Group and its successor, the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, which renamed itself al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in 2007. AQIM is al Qaeda’s affiliate in North Africa.
In 2003, the United Nations designated Belmokhtar as a global terrorist for his activities on behalf of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. He was also convicted in absentia by Algerian courts for criminal acts including terrorism in 2004, 2007, and 2008.
Although Belmokhtar split with al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in December 2012, he still conducts joint operations with the group. Belmokhtar later created the al-Mua’qi’oon Biddam, or Those who sign with Blood Brigade, which led the bloody terrorist assault against the In Amenas gas facility in southeastern Algeria in mid-January.
Belmokhtar reports directly to al Qaeda’s central leadership, according to his spokesman. Al Qaeda central tightened its control over AQIM’s hostage operations in late 2010. [See LWJ report, Analysis: Al Qaeda central tightened control over hostage operations].
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So far the French officials have not confirmed the killing of either Hamid About Zayed ( Emir of Tarik Ben Zayed Brigade) or Mokhtar Belmokhtar(Emir of Mulathameen brigade).Since both are Algerian nationals, a DNA from Algeria will confirm this good news.If it is true this will be a big decapitation to AQIM.
Burn in hell. Good job to our Chadian “allies”.
If true, excellent development. That (was) one bad dude.
I’m sure the Chad government managed to kill this terrorist, but surely they could photograph his dead body and put it on TV, without of course the gory scenes. Who knows, they might, unless it was a drone or aircraft that bombed him and completely burnt his body, which I suspect could be the latter.
to date many of the African Nation’s have proven to be reliable allies in the GWOT. Good for them & good for ‘us.’
Any new word or confirmation?
It seems we have been making some great progress in nuetralization of high value targets in Mali. It was apparent years ago that AQIM and Tuaregs were initializing collaborative work and it was a matter of time before Boko Haram was sponsored in some fashion by AQ – Same is true with Al Shabaab and AQ – the real question is: Where, When and How are East, North and West Africa regional AQ Affiliates and their associates collaborating as a pan-Africa movement with a pan-Africa strategy? Have we seen collaboration between AQ operators in Somalia and AQ operators in Mali & Nigeria?
Brandon,Of course there is a link, AQ is chain who extend from Mauritania to Pakistan.He is called Mr Marlboro because of his smuggling network who reach behind N. Africa, Sahel and East Africa. Just look into the Ain-Amenas assault terrorist group nationalities to notice a connection to the east of Sahel and North Africa.
Belmokhtar and Abou Zayed are both good strategist and it is good if they are killed but, they are just Lieutenants who work for Abdelmalik Droukdel aka Abu Musab Abdel Wadoud.He is a more dangerous terrorist.
I can see Hamid Abou Zeid killed in this operation but not Belmokthar. About Zeid tactics are based on kidnapping, this will force him to be immobile and probably hide in the caves close to the prisoners he detains.Belmokthar is the opposite of About Zeid, his tactics are based on smuggling and moving all the time, be mobile and small. I guess his refuge will be either Niger or Libya from where he planed the Ain Amenas attacks.