|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|
|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 .
|U.N. Staffer Killed in Mali Attack on Peacekeeping Convoy|
|[AnNahar] A U.N. employee was killed Tuesday in an attack on a peacekeeping convoy in northern Mali, Secretary General said.|
The attackers used explosives on the road from Goundam to Timbuktu where the vehicles from the U.N. MINUSMA force were traveling, he said.
Ban condemned the attack in which a civilian staff member was killed and said such actions "will not alter the determination of the to support the Malian people and the ."
The attack came just days after Islamist stormed a luxury hotel in Bamako, killing at least 20 people and taking hostages before Malian, French and U.S. troops moved in to end the siege.
Northern Mali fell under the control of Tuareg rebels and jihadist groups linked to Al-Qaeda in mid-2012 before they were beaten back by a French-led operation in early 2013.
In June, the two main armed factions signed a peace deal to end the conflict in the north, but some splinter groups are opposing the agreement.
Two separate jihadist groups have for the assault on the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako on Friday: the Al-Murabitoun group, an Al-Qaeda affiliate led by notorious one-eyed Algerian Mokhtar Belmokhtar, and the Macina Liberation Front (LWF) from central Mali.
The United Nations has deployed some 10,200 peacekeepers in Mali to help restore order after the Islamist takeover in the north but the mission has come under repeated attacks.
|Mali gunmen were hunting for Air France staff at Radisson|
|The terrorists behind Friday's assault on a hotel in Mali were actively hunting for an Air France crew who were staying there, security guards who witnessed the attack have claimed.|
Kasim Haidara, who was on duty when the gunmen stormed the Radisson hotel in Bamako, told The Telegraph that they confronted a colleague and demanded to know which floor the Air France crew were staying on. The fellow guard deliberately directed them to the wrong floor, Mr Haidara said, for which he was later shot dead by the terrorists.
Mr Haidara's account would suggest that the group, who killed 19 people, was prioritising French citizens because of the country's two-year long military campaign against Islamists in northern Mali. It might also explain the Air France's decision to suspend its twice daily flights from Paris to Bamako shortly afterwards.
Speaking of the "shocking, frightening" attack, Mr Haidara, 28, said that his colleague, Moussa Tiema-Konate, had been on the fifth floor of the hotel at the time.
"When they got up there, the terrorists asked him: 'where are the staff of Air France?' He told them that they were on the seventh floor instead, and when they realised later that he had given them wrong information, they came back down and killed him."
Air France has not commented on whether its staff were deliberately targeted or not, although did not confirm that 12 crew - including two pilots - were safely evacuated.
Mr Haidara's claims emerged as a chef who worked in the hotel's kitchens said that one of the terrorists had calmly cooked himself a meal during the siege, which lasted nine hours. Ali Yazbeck, 30, who suffered a gunshot wound to the neck, told the New York Times that the gunman came into the kitchen, grilled some meat taken from a fridge, and then ate it before resuming combat.
Responsibility for the attack has been claimed by the Al-Murabitoun group, an Al-Qaeda affiliate led by Mokhtar Belmokhtar, the one-eyed Algerian militant behind the 2013 Amenas gas refinery attack in Algeria that killed 40 hostages, including six Britons.
Reports that the Mali attackers spoke in English with a Nigerian accent have raised speculation that the Nigerian Islamist sect Boko Haram could also have been involved. However, security officials say they would have expected the group to have made a claim of responsibility by now.
Malian security forces say they are still hunting for "more than three" people who may have been involved in the attack, in which two of the gunmen were killed.
|Mali Hunting at Least three Suspects over Hotel Attack|
|[AnNahar] Investigators in Mali were on Saturday hunting at least three people suspected of links to the jihadist siege at a luxury hotel in the capital that left at least 19 people dead.|
The government has declared a state of emergency after the bloody nine-hour hostage-taking at the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako on Friday, exactly a week after the massacre.
A security cordon remained in place around the Radisson and security was also boosted around public buildings and banks and other hotels.
The Al-Murabitoun group, an al-Qaeda affiliate led by notorious one-eyed Algerian Mokhtar Belmokhtar, nicknamed the "Uncatchable" or "Mr Marlboro", claimed the attack.
Gunmen went on the rampage through the hotel from the early morning, shooting in the corridors and taking 170 guests and staff hostage, many of them foreigners.
The assault, which ended when Malian and international troops stormed the hotel, left 19 people dead as well as two attackers, President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita said.
The victims included several Russians, three Chinese, two Belgians, an American and a ese.
A Malian military source had said earlier there were at least 27 dead, while at least "three had been killed or blown themselves up."
Authorities are now "actively pursuing" at least three people over the attack in the former French colony, one security source told AFP.
In an audio recording broadcast by television, Belmokhtar's group , saying it had worked with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.
French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Belmokhtar, one of the world's most , was indeed "likely" the brains behind the assault.
The jihadist is also accused of spearheading an attack on an Algerian gas plant in 2013 in which around 40 hostages were killed, most of them Westerners.
has more than 1,000 troops in its former colony, a key battleground of the Barkhane counter-terror mission spanning five countries in Africa's restive .
|Islamists Kill Policeman in Mali|
|[AnNahar] Islamists from a group linked to a deadly hotel siege have attacked a police post in central Mali, killing an officer, military and local government sources said Sunday. |
"On Saturday, armed Islamists fired on three gendarmes in Bankass, at a security post," said a Malian army source in the regional capital Mopti, around 100 kilometers (60 miles) away, adding that one of the officers died.
Mahamane Cisse, a councilor in the Mopti region, said the "terrorists" were fighters for radical Islamic preacher Amadou Koufa's Macina Liberation Front.
Little is known about the group, but it was linked to a hostage drama at a hotel in nearby town of Sevare in August in which 13 people died, including five U.N. workers.
Cisse said the fighters in Saturday's attack moved on after killing the police officer to a nearby local government building.
"There, they set fire to two vehicles and the residence of the sub-prefect, who fortunately was not there," he added.
"It was the men of Amadou Koufa of the Macina Liberation Front that did it."
Koufa is close to Souleyman Mohammed Kennen, who for the Byblos hotel siege in a brief phone conversation soon after with AFP.
"The hand of Allah has guided the mujahedeen of Sevare against the enemies of Islam," Kennen said, adding that Koufa had given his "blessing" to the attack.
In 2012, Kennen was part of the Malian wing of fighters led by notorious Algerian jihadist commander Mokhtar Belmokhtar, a founding member of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), who now heads his own group.
Northern Mali was then under the control of jihadist movements linked to al-Qaeda and ethnic Tuareg rebel forces. The main towns in the desert territory were recaptured from the with the help of French and African troops in 2013.
Security forces in Mali have at least 10 suspects over the Byblos hotel siege, which began on August 7 and lasted almost 24 hours.
Four foreign employees of the U.N.'s peacekeeping mission in Mali were killed, along with a Malian civilian driver, four "terrorists" and four soldiers, according to the government.
Army reinforcements arrived in the Bankass area on Sunday "to protect people and look for terrorists," the military source said.
|Mali Hotel Attack Claimed by Fighters Linked to Belmokhtar|
|[AnNahar] A deadly hostage drama at a Mali hotel in which 13 people died -- including five U.N. workers -- was claimed Tuesday by fighters linked to the notorious one-eyed Algerian jihadi leader Mokhtar Belmokhtar.|
A radical associated with Malian Islamic leader Amadou Koufa said he gave his "blessing" for the attack on the Byblos Hotel in the central town of Sevare.
Koufa has ties to Belmokhtar -- known as "The Uncatchable" -- the former head of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) who now leads his own Al-Murabitoun group.
"The hand of Allah has guided the mujahedeen of Sevare against the enemies of Islam," Souleyman Mohammed Kennen told an AFP in Bamako during a brief telephone interview.
The stand-off with the hostage-takers, which began early Friday, ended nearly 24 hours later when Malian troops stormed the hotel.
Souleyman claimed the group was also behind the killing of three Malian soldiers on Monday when their vehicle hit an improvised close to Diabozo, near Sevare. Four other troops were , the government said.
Jihadist attacks long concentrated in the north of Mali -- where linked to AQIM still exercise much control -- began spreading to the center of the country earlier this year, even as far south as the borders with Ivory Coast and in June.
The U.S. said it targeted Belmokhtar in an air strike in the Libyan desert the same month, but AQIM denied reports its former leader had been killed.
Investigators said Monday they found phone numbers and addresses on the bodies of the "terrorists" killed in the Sevare hotel which suggested they were affiliated with the Macina Liberation Front (FLM), a new Islamic group drawn from the Fulani people of central Mali.
"At this stage there is no formal proof that it was the Macina Liberation Front, but strong suspicions point to this group that has been seeking notoriety at all costs," she said.
But a regional security source told AFP there is "much coming and going between all these groups. In claiming responsibility for the Sevare attack, Souleyman is also speaking for the other jihadi groups," he said.
The FLM, which emerged earlier this year, has claimed a number of attacks, some targeting security forces in central Mali. It is considered linked to Ansar Dine -- Arabic for "defenders of the faith" -- one of the groups that took control of Mali's vast arid north in April 2012. Washington added Ansar Dine to its terror blacklist in 2013, accusing it of close ties to Al-Qaeda and of torturing and killing opponents in the north.
|NY Times: Top Tunisian 'Jihadist' Killed by US Strike in Libya|
|[ALMANAR.LB] A top Tunisian terrorist and associate of late Al-Qaeda leader was killed by a US in Libya last month, the reported.|
Seifallah Ben Hassine, Tunisia's most wanted Jihadist, who ed a campaign of s and terrorist attacks, including one against the United States Embassy in Tunis, was killed mid-June in an that targeted a top Al Qaeda-linked terrorist, the paper said.
Ben Hassine, also known as Abu Ayadh, is believed to have coordinated a string of s, including the killing of famed Afghan anti-Taliban fighter Ahmad Shah Masood in 2001.
He was one of Osama bin Laden's top lieutenants and the leader of the outlawed group h in Tunisia. He had been based in Libya since 2013, according to reports, and ran training camps and a network of cells across the region.
Tunisian officials also accused Ben Hassine of directing the killings of two secular Tunisian politicians in 2013, the paper reported.
"His death, if confirmed, would be an important victory for Tunisia in its struggle to contain a persistent insurgency in its western border region and a growing threat to its urban centers," New York Times said.
Moreover, Tunisian station Radio Mosaique first reported Ben Hassine's death, which the US paper said it had confirmed with an official in Washington.
The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a confidential military assessment, said Ben Hassine died in a strike that targeted Mokhtar Belmokhtar, a top Al Qaeda-linked believed to have ed a deadly attack on an Algerian gas plant in 2013.
Libya's government reported at the time that Belmokhtar was killed in the attack but Al Qaeda's North Africa branch denied it.
Hassine had been on a blacklist since 2002 over his links to al-Qaeda. He was imprisoned in Tunisia in 2003 but released under an amnesty after the ouster of ex- in 2011.
He fought alongside Bin Laden in Afghanistan in 2001 before travelling to Pakistain and then where he was and extradited, the newspaper reported.