Pentagon Confirms Algerian Terrorist Was Targeted

Pentagon confirms that Mokhtar Belmokhtar was indeed the target of an airstrike in Libya, but will not confirm if he was killed.

Ben Ariel ,

Mokhtar Belmokhtar
Mokhtar Belmokhtar

The United States military confirmed on Sunday night that Algerian terrorist Mokhtar Belmokhtar was indeed the target of an airstrike in Libya, Reuters reports.

Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steve Warren did not, however, specify if Belmokhtar had been killed.

"The strike was carried out by U.S. aircraft. We are continuing to assess the results of the operation and will provide more details as appropriate," Warren said in a statement quoted by Reuters.

The Pentagon’s confirmation came hours after Libya's recognized government said that Belmokhtar, blamed for masterminding an Algerian gas field attack and running smuggling routes across North Africa, had been killed in a U.S. airstrike inside Libya.

Warren earlier on Sunday confirmed an airstrike had taken place and said the military believed it had been 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.

Belmokhtar led a renegade group called al-Murabitoun, or The Sentinels, when he directed the attack on 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.

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.