|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|
|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.
|Mokhtar not listed among dead from U.S. airstrike in Libya|
|[CTVNEWS.CA] Al Qaeda and other militants in Libya on Tuesday released a list of names of those they say were killed in a U.S. airstrike over the weekend that does not include the raid's main target, al Qaeda-linked commander Mokhtar Belmokhtar.|
The al Qaeda-linked Ansar al-Shariah released a list of seven names of fighters and residents it said were killed in the "crusader American strike" in the eastern town of Ajdabiya.
A second statement from an umbrella group for militias called the Shura Council of Ajdabiya and its Surroundings also did not include Belmokhtar among the dead.
|Libyan Islamist says US strike missed al-Qaida-linked leader|
|[Ynet] The US military says it launched weekend s targeting and likely killing an al-Qaeda-linked leader in eastern Libya charged with leading the attack on a gas plant in Algeria in 2013 that killed at least 35 hostages, including three Americans.|
An Islamist with ties to Libyan s, however, said the s missed Mokhtar Belmokhtar, instead killing four members of a Libyan extremist group the US has linked to the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.
US officials said they are still assessing the results of the Saturday strike, but Pentagon Col. Steve Warren said the military believes the strike was successful and hit the target. Neither US officials nor the Libyan government provided proof of Belmokhtar's death, which likely requires a DNA test or an announcement by Belmokhtar's group that he was killed.
Intelligence officials say Belmokhtar essentially built a bridge between AQIM and the underworld, creating a system where various blends of outlaws now support each other and enroll local youth. He's been linked to terror attacks and the lucrative kidnapping of foreigners in the region.
The US filed terrorism charges in 2013 against Belmokhtar in connection with the Algeria attack. Officials have said they believe he remained a threat to US and Western interests. Belmokhtar had just split off from al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb to start his own franchise.
The Libyan government in a statement Sunday said that the strike targeting Belmokhtar came after consultation with the US so that America could take action against a terror leader there.
One government official in Libya said an in the northeastern coastal city of Ajdabiya hit a group of Islamic also believed linked to al-Qaeda and that it killed five and more. He said the group that was later fought the Libyan military that guarded the hospital there, leading to an hourslong battle. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to s. The official couldn't confirm that was the same strike that killed Belmokhtar.
The Islamist, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals in restive Libya, told The early Monday that Belmokhtar wasn't at the site of the US . He said the strike killed four Ansar Shariah members in Ajdabiya, some 850 kilometers east of the Libyan capital, American officials have linked Ansar Shariah to the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi.
|US Airstrike "likely" killed Mokhtar in Libya|
|The U.S military launched weekend airstrikes targeting and likely killing an al-Qaida-linked militant leader in eastern Libya who has been charged with leading the attack on a gas plant in Algeria in 2013 that killed at least 35 hostages, including three Americans.|
The Libyan government said warplanes targeted and killed Mokhtar Belmokhtar and several others in eastern Libya. A U.S. official said two F-15 fighter jets launched multiple 500-pound bombs in the attack. The official was not authorized to discuss the details of the attack publicly so spoke on condition of anonymity.
U.S. officials said they are still assessing the results of the Saturday strike, but Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren said the military believes the strike was successful and hit the target. Neither U.S. officials nor the Libyan government provided proof of Belmokhtar's death, which likely requires a DNA test or an announcement by Belmokhtar's group that he was killed.
|Guard Wounded in Attack on U.N. Personnel in Mali's Capital|
The assailant attempted to set fire to one of the force's vehicles parked in front of the residence housing troops in the city's southeastern Faso Kanu neighborhood around 2:30 am (0230 GMT), the force said in a statement.
Before escaping, he shot and the guard and then opened fire on the building and parked U.N.-marked cars, the statement added.
"MINUSMA condemns in the strongest terms this attack against its staff and property, which constitutes a serious crime under international law," the mission said.
"It calls on the Malian authorities to make every effort to identify those responsible for this act and bring them to justice."
The statement said members of UNMAS, the mission's mine-clearing service, had been dispatched to defuse two un grenades found at the scene.
No one for the attack, but it comes at a time of strained relations between the government and the peacekeeping mission, which complained at the weekend that its impartiality was being "regularly called into question".
Reacting to criticism of the mission by Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, the force lamented that "neither its contribution nor its sacrifices are accorded their proper value".
Keita's broadside came at the end of a speech by , read out in Bamako on Friday by the U.N.'s chief peacekeeper Herve Ladsous, lamenting serious violations of ceasefire agreements "on all sides".
"Have we ever violated the ceasefire? Never," Keita said.
"So then, Mr. Ladsous, it would be appropriate that the United Nations act justly and fairly in this regard," he said, calling for "a little respect for our people".
Yvan Guichaoua, a lecturer at the University of East Anglia in and an expert on the , tweeted in reaction to the attack that Keita's "anti-MINUSMA words last week don't look so wise retrospectively".
He added that, while he didn't think Keita's outburst was responsible for the attack, "continually and publicly running down MINUSMA doesn't help in calming the political climate".
With more than 40 peacekeepers killed since its inception in 2013, MINUSMA is considered the most dangerous U.N. mission in the world.
The country's restive north has been plagued by violence by jihadist groups that seized control of the region from Tuareg rebels before being routed by a French-led international intervention that began in 2013.
A struck a U.N. barracks in the town of Ansongo in April, killing two civilians and wounding nine peacekeepers from Niger in an attack claimed by Algerian jihadist commander Mokhtar Belmokhtar's militia.
Despite peaceful elections after the French operation, the country remains deeply divided and the north has seen an upsurge in attacks by pro-government militias and the Tuareg-led rebellion known as the CMA.
The government and several s signed a peace accord last week in a ceremony in Bamako attended by numerous heads of state but missing the crucial backing of the CMA.
The Algerian-led international mediation team in the said in a statement on Wednesday it was launching a series of consultations in Algiers to establish conditions for the "completion of the signing process".
The team has appointed a group of experts to set out a timetable for the implementation of the agreement, it said.
|Belmokhtar's Jihadist Group in N. Africa Pledges Allegiance to IS|
|[AnNahar] The jihadist group of notorious one-eyed AlgerianMokhtar Belmokhtar has pledged allegiance to the organization, according to an audio recording broadcast by private Mauritanian agency al-Akhbar. |
Belmokhtar's al-Murabitoun group, which is active in north Africa, was linked to al-Qaeda, but the recording attributed to one of its leading members
|Al-Qaida-Linked Jihadists Claim U.N. Suicide Attack in Mali|
|[AnNahar] A jihadist group led by al-Qaeda-linked Mokhtar Belmokhtar has for a deadly on the in Mali, in a recording released Friday by Mauritanian news agency Alakhbar.|
Two and nine peacekeepers from Niger when a set off explosives as he attempted to drive into a camp used by the U.N.'s MINUSMA peacekeeping mission in Ansongo, in the northern region of Gao, on Wednesday.
|MUJAO Jihadists Claim Deadly Red Cross Attack in Mali|
|[AnNahar] An international worker was killed and a local colleague when the aid truck they were driving came under fire in northern Mali on Monday, in an attack claimed by the MUJAO jihadist group.|
A member of the national Mali had been in the attack, but was , it said.
"The ICRC strongly condemns the attack and calls on all parties to the conflict to respect and protect humanitarian workers," the organization said in a statement.
A for the MUJAO group (the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa) said the attack had killed "a driver who worked for the enemy".
"We have achieved what we wanted with this attack," Abou Walid Sahraoui told AFP by phone.
The ICRC staff member, named only as Hamadoun, had been driving a truck from Gao to Niamey in neighboring Niger "to collect much-needed medical equipment for Gao hospital," said Yasmine Praz Dessimoz, head of ICRC's operations for North and West Africa.
ICRC said the exact circumstances of the incident that killed the married father of four remained unclear, but stressed that the truck had been clearly marked with the emblem.
An African military source with the ' MINUSMA mission in Mali said the attack happened between Gao and the town of Ansongo and had been "carefully planned".
"It was carried out by at least six terrorists. Shots were fired," the source said.
Divided into rival armed factions, plagued by drug trafficking and infiltrated by jihadist groups, Mali's desert north has struggled for stability since the west African nation gained independence in 1960.
The ICRC's Praz Dessimoz said the humanitarian situation in northern Mali was "worrying".
"The ICRC is concerned about the rise in violence against humanitarian workers, which is preventing them from coming to the aid of individuals and communities in dire need," she said in the statement.
The MUJAO was one of a number of Islamist militia groups that controlled northern Mali for nearly a year before they were routed and pushed north into the deserts of the Sahara by a French-led offensive in 2013.
Extremist fighters have however continued to stage sporadic attacks in Mali's north.
|Mali hunts jihadist nightclub killers as militants attack UN|
|[Hurriyet Daily News] Police in Mali March 8 hunted for the killers of two Europeans and three Malians in a jihadist attack on a nightclub, as a deadly assault on a UN barracks in the north heightened security concerns.|
Officers in bulletproof vests patrolled the streets of the capital Bamako, where a masked gunman had burst into La Terrase, a popular venue among expats, spraying automatic gunfire and throwing grenades early Saturday.
Al-Murabitoun, a jihadist group run by leading Algerian Mokhtar Belmokhtar, has for the attack, which left a , a Belgian and three Malians dead.
It said in an audio recording carried by Mauritanian news agency Al-Akbar the operation was carried out "to avenge our prophet against the unbelieving West which has insulted and mocked him".
As the investigation got under way, the UN's MINUSMA peacekeeping force said one of its troops and two civilians had been killed by shelling its barracks in the northeastern rebel stronghold of Kidal.
MINUSMA sources said the civilians were members of the nomadic Arab Kunta tribe who died as stray rockets landed at their nearby encampment.
It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack, although the Kidal is the cradle of northern Mali's Tuareg separatist movement, which has launched several uprisings from the region since the 1960s.
Tuareg and Arab militias -- loyalist and anti-government -- have forged a peace agreement with the Malian government formulated earlier this month in Algiers, but the main rebel groups are yet to sign.
"MINUSMA expresses its indignation at the cowardice of the perpetrators of these attacks, which also killed innocent citizens," the force said in a statement.
"MINUSMA strongly condemns these heinous acts of terror whose sole purpose is to thwart all ongoing efforts to establish lasting peace in Mali."
Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and other jihadist groups also carry out operations in the area, including the 2013 murders of French journalists Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon
|France Says It Has 'Neutralized' 200 Jihadists in Sahel|
"There have been many operations, nearly 200 have been neutralized in a year, around 50 since August" when launched a massive counter-terrorism operation across five nations in the semi-arid Sahel, Le Drian told French radio and television.
In separate comments to Jeune Afrique magazine in an interview to appear Monday, he said some important leaders were among those killed or captured, mostly in Mali and Niger.
In what was seen as a massive blow to Islamist fighters, the French army on Thursday said it had killed Ahmed el Tilemsi, the Malian leader of the notorious Algerian jihadist Mokhtar Belmokhtar's Al-Murabitoun group.
The French military in 2013 routed radical Islamist groups who had seized large swathes of northern Mali, and in August this year launched Operation Barkhane as part of a wider counter-terrorism operation.
A total of 3,000 troops are now taking part in the operation across Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Chad, to track and combat Islamist with fighter aircraft, helicopters and drones.
They are currently building an advance base close to the Libyan border in the north of Niger.
Le Drian said that the south of Libya had become a hub for jihadists operating in the region.
"Southern Libya has become a place of recovery, a petrol station, a place of rest, re-organization and training for a number of terrorist groups," he said in the interview broadcast on Radio Internationale and TV5 Monde.
"The hunt for always leads to the Libyan border. The country is in chaos."
"The international community must take the necessary steps with the countries concerned," Le Drian said, not ruling out military action there.
But first there would have to be a political solution in Libya, he said, with the country torn apart by a war between two rival governments. "That will come about through the pacification of the whole of Libya."
|U.S.-Wanted Jihadist Killed in Mali Operation|
|[AnNahar] The French army said Thursday it had killed the commander of a major West African jihadist group's branch in Mali in an operation in the north of the country.|
Ahmed el Tilemsi was the emir of the Al-Murabitoun group in Mali and was earlier this year declared a "specially designated global terrorist" by the U.S. State Department, who offered a $5 million reward (four million euros) for information leading to his capture.
"Last night... French forces conducted an operation in the Gao region (of northern Mali) in coordination with Malian authorities," army Gilles Jaron said, adding that Tilemsi had been killed.
"We've really hit Al-Murabitoun hard," said Jaron.
Tilemsi has a long history with jihadist groups operating in the , having been a member of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) before becoming one of the founding members of the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), a splinter group aimed at spreading jihad throughout the region.
MUJAO was one of a number of Islamist groups that occupied northern Mali last year, imposing a brutal interpretation of Islamic sharia law characterised by amputations, beatings and executions, before being ousted by the French-led military intervention.
In August 2013, it merged with a group run by notorious Algerian jihadist Mokhtar Belmokhtar to form Al-Murabitoun, which loosely translates as "the guardians" and claimed to seek on for its actions in Mali.
The one-eyed Islamist Belmokhtar split from AQIM in 2013 to form his own group and ed a deadly raid against Algeria's In Amenas gas plant in which 38 hostages were killed in a four-day siege.
Tilemsi "was a very valuable target. We had been tracking him for several days," a government source told Agence Presse.
The source said Tilemsi was one of the s of the kidnapping of Gilberto Rodrigues Leal, who MUJAO claimed to have killed last April.
According to the U.S. State Department, Tilemsi also played a role in the kidnapping of two in Niamey in January 2011 while part of AQIM. The hostages were later found dead after a failed rescue attempt by the French military.
Tilemsi also took part in the October 2011 kidnapping of three aid workers in Algeria, which left two by gunfire, the State Department said.