And here i thought that Al-Qeada was defunct, I mean, Obama said so!
From the Telegraph:
The al-Qaeda commander who masterminded an attack on a gas plant in Algeria has been killed, it was claimed on Saturday night.
A Chad military spokesman said Mokhtar Belmokhtar, one of the world’s most wanted terrorists, died on Saturday in an assault on an Islamist rebel base in northern Mali.
Belmokhtar was at the centre of an international manhunt after at least 37 foreign hostages, including six Britons, were killed in a siege at the In Amenas gas complex in eastern Algeria last January.
In a statement read out on Chadian national television, Gen Zacharia Gobongue, the armed forces spokesman, said: “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.”
The French military, which is leading the offensive in northern Mali assisted by several African nations, said it could not confirm the report.
Belmokhtar, 40, who headed a militant brigade called Witnesses in Blood, became one of the world’s most wanted men after the gas complex, operated by BP together with Norway’s Statoil and Sonatrach, Algeria’s state energy company, was attacked by gunmen on Jan 16.
Belmokhtar’s death, if confirmed, would be a major blow to Islamist rebels in northern Mali who have been pushed into their mountain strongholds by French and African forces. The Algerian-born Belmokhtar, linked to a string of kidnappings in North Africa in the past decade, had been dubbed “the uncatchable” by the French.
He is said to have become attracted to Islamism as a teenage schoolboy, travelling to Afghanistan at the end of the war against the Soviets in the early 1990s.
This launched him on a two-decade career of Islamic militancy, initially as a member of Algeria’s Islamic Armed Group (GIA) in the country’s civil war. He then became a joint founder of the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), which extended its attacks against security forces into countries along the southern fringe of the Sahara. He lost his left eye while handling explosives in the 1990s fighting Algerian government troops as head of the Shahada Katibat [Martyrs Battallion] in the Sahara.
The GSPC later took up the franchise of al-Qaeda’s North Africa wing, under the name al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Belmokhtar headed one of two AQIM battalions in Algeria’s southern desert bordering Mali.
Belmokhtar was sentenced by an Algerian court to life imprisonment in absentia in connection with the killing of 10 Algerian customs agents in 2007.
His reputation as a “gangster-jihadist” involved in arms and cigarette smuggling earned him the nickname “Mister Malboro” among locals in the Sahara.