Senior Qaeda Terrorist Reportedly Killed in Libya

Libya's recognized government says Algerian terrorist Mokhtar Belmokhtar was killed in a U.S. airstrike inside Libya.

Ben Ariel ,

Mokhtar Belmokhtar
Mokhtar Belmokhtar

Libya's recognized government said on Sunday that Algerian terrorist Mokhtar Belmokhtar had been killed in a U.S. airstrike inside Libya as part of a counter-terrorism cooperation, Reuters reported.

Earlier, the U.S. Department of Defense said the military conducted a counterterrorism strike against an Al-Qaeda-associated target in Libya on Saturday night, but were assessing results before providing more details.

"The Libyan government in the east of Libya confirms that the U.S fighter jets conducted air strikes last night in a mission which resulted in the death of the terrorist Belmokhtar," Libya's recognized government said, according to Reuters.

A Pentagon spokesman, Colonel Steve Warren, had said on Sunday the military believed the strike was successful and hit the target, but he did not provide the name of the terrorist who was targeted.

He also said he did not know where the strike took place in Libya, and it was not known if it was carried out by a drone or manned aircraft.

The airstrike would be the first against a target in Libya since the end of the war against former dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011, noted The Telegraph.

Belmokhtar, the report noted, led a renegade group of militants called al-Murabitoun, or The Sentinels, who rejected orders from the local branch of Al-Qaeda but were still seen as part of the broader movement.

In January 2013, his group, then known as the "Masked Men Brigade" or "Those who sign in blood" seized control of a gas facility in the Algerian Sahara, holding hundreds of staff hostage.

Belmokhtar was widely reported to have been based in lawless parts of the Libyan desert. There were reports in 2013 that he had been killed in a military assault in Mali.

The United States, noted The Telegraph, has been monitoring radicals with broader connections to international terrorism.

In October 2013, a special forces raid seized Abu Anas al-Libi, a senior Al-Qaeda commander, from his home in Tripoli, and flew him to the United States to stand trial in connection with the bombing of embassies in East Africa in 1998. He died in January from longstanding health problems.

A subsequent mission, in June last year, seized Ahmed Abu Khattala, the suspected ringleader of the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi in 2012 in which the ambassador, Chris Stevens, and three other Americans were killed. He is now awaiting trial in the United States.