French forces in Mali have killed Abdelhamid Abou Zeid, the Al Qaeda commander of the North African wing AQIM. Algerian Ennahar TV first reported the news that 40 militants including Abou Zeid were killed in the region of Tigargara in Northern Mali three days ago. Here are some quick facts about the strike that led to the ruthless leader’s death.
1. Abou Zeid Was Killed in an Airstrike
Ennahar TV said that Abou Zeid and 40 other militants were killed in an airstrike operated by the French military. However, no reports were made by the Algerian government or the French Defense Military on whether Abou Zeid was killed.
2. Abou Zeid Led An Assault in Central Mali
In early January 2013, Abou Zeid led his followers to central Mali and raided the small town of Diabaly. Known as the “emir of the south,” the Al Qaeda Commander and his men were attacked by the French troops. The French military were aiding the Malian government to seize back control from the AQIM.
3. He Was Known to Be Ruthless
An Algerian native, Abou Zeid has been considered as one of the most violent and cunning leaders with an ultimatim to lead the AQIM now based in the African Sahel.
Analyst Ali Zawi told GlobalPost of Abu Zeid’s status as a dangerous combatant.
“He is worse than Mokhtar bil Mokhtar,” he said, who was referring to the jihadist leader who launched an attack on Algeria’s In Amenas gas plant last month. “He’ll kill anyone.”
4. Believed to Be Behind Two Deaths
According to Sky News, Abou Zeid was believed to have killed British national Edwin Dyer in 2009, and 78-year-old Frenchman Michel Germaneau in 2010. Edwin wash held in captivity for four months until he was executed. In capturing hostages, Abou Zeid has raised tens of millions of dollars.
5. He Was Pushed Out of Algeria and Into Mali
Algeria and Abou Zeid were locked in a decades-long battle when Zeid’s Islamic group was assaulting locals. In 2005, a counterterrorism operation was launched and became successful when Abou Zeid was pushed out of Algeria and into Mali. Just last year, the Algerian court sentenced him to life imprisonment for his involvement in the attacks against Algeria.