Report: US Airstrike in Libya Targeted Algerian Islamist Leader

Mokhtar Belmokhtar Has Been 'Killed' Several Times in Recent Years

After Pentagon officials earlier today reported an airstrike against “an al-Qaeda associated target” in Libya, some Libyan officials are claiming that Algerian Mokhtar Belmokhtar was the target, and was slain in the US attacks. Other Libyan officials later said three were killed, but they couldn’t conclusively identify them yet.

Pentagon officials aren’t confirming that yet, and Belmokhtar has been reported slain more than a few times in recent years, most recently during the French war in Mali. Top-ranking Islamists are often falsely reported slain on a fairly regular basis.

Belmokhtar was a figure within al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and had claimed credit for the 2013 Ameriras hostage-taking incident in Algeria, in which 39 hostages and 29 militants were slain. He had been listed by the State Department as a terrorist financier since 2003.

Whether he was an extent member of AQIM was unclear at the time of the strike, however, as he was reportedly involved in leadership disputes in the group and had threatened to found an alternative faction. Exactly what came of this was the subject of much speculation.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.