Algeria begins trying top Qaeda boss - Pakistan Today

Algeria begins trying top Qaeda boss

An Algerian court Sunday began trying Mokhtar Belmokhtar, a top leader in Al-Qaeda’s north African branch, in absentia for the deaths of two Algerian soldiers. Belmokhtar and nine co-defendants, of whom four are also on the run, are accused of perpetrating several “terrorist acts” including a May 2010 attack on soldiers in the southern Djelfa region that left two dead.
Belmokhtar, a native of central Algeria, is a founding member of the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), which later became known as Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Belmokhtar heads one of AQIM’s two main katibas (battalions), controlling the group’s southern area.
Nicknamed “the uncatchable”, Belmokhtar rules over a large swathe of desert that straddles Algeria, Chad, Niger, Mali and Mauritania and where his men are believed to hold several Europeans hostage. Belmokhtar has already been sentenced in absentia to life imprisonment in 2004 and 2008, and to 20 years in prison in 2007, over similar charges and the killing of 13 customs officers.
In November Belmokhtar told a Mauritanian news website that AQIM had acquired Libyan weapons during fighting that ended in the overthrow and killing of strongman Moamer Kadhafi.

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