al Qaeda financier Mokhtar Belmokhtar has once again been pronounced dead
following a joint French-U.S. aircraft strike in Libya, The
Wall Street Journal reported on Monday. While the White House and
Pentagon have yet to release any public statements, U.S. intelligence officials
ensure that an airstrike early this November was the final blow to the man
French officials labeled as “uncatchable”.
Belmokhtar has evaded death numerous times, despite efforts by France, Algeria
and the U.S.,
him for nearly ten years, placing $5
million bounty over his head in 2013.
was an original leader
of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), and has since funneled millions
of dollars to the group through alleged hostage kidnappings, narcotics and
car smuggling. He exploited Africa’s pervasive
tobacco industry through a $1
billion cigarette trafficking enterprise, garnering him a second nickname
Marlboro”. Following Moammar Gaddafi’s 2011 ousting, Belmokhtar purportedly
cache, which he likely supplied to his AQIM cohorts. His wily endeavors
have earned him sanctions by the EU
along with the U.S,
Canada, Australia, Israel,
Switzerland and Hong Kong.
has a legendary history of waging jihad, one of his most deadly recent attacks
was a 2013 hostage standoff at a Western-owned Algerian
gas plant, totaling 37 total deaths, including three Americans. In 2015, he
again claimed responsibility for a siege on the Radisson
Blu Hotel in Bamako, Mali, that claimed the lives of 20
Wall Street Journal:
“Mr. Belmokhtar has raised tens
of millions of dollars for al Qaeda affiliates through smuggling and by taking
European hostages and selling illicit goods, and is considered directly
responsible for the deaths of at least three Americans, according to U.S.
in 2013 launched
a multiagency effort to find him that included the Federal Bureau of
Investigation, the military’s Joint Special Operations Command and the Drug
Belmokhtar, once the head of the al Qaeda chapter in North Africa and the Sahel
region—known as al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM—has been on the U.S.
wanted list for at least a decade. He was thought to have been killed at least
twice before, including in an airstrike in June and a drone strike last year.”