Airstrike In Libya Kills Algerian Terrorist Mokhtar Belmokhtar
A U.S. airstrike carried out in Libya killed Algerian militant Mokhtar Belmokhtar on Sunday, according to U.S. and Libyan officials.
CNN reported the Islamist fighter was connected with al Qaeda in North Africa and was the planned target of the airstrike in Libya.
The terrorist’s movements were being tracked for some time, and the airstrike was conducted when the time was right. Details were not immediately available to the public, and Pentagon officials were hesitant to say much about the airstrike in Libya.
A Pentagon official told CNN, “It was a single strike conducted by a manned aircraft.”
The airstrike occurred at 2 am local time. No U.S. military personnel were involved on the ground in the attack. Other Libyans were killed in the airstrike, according to a statement released by the Libyan government.
“The Libyan government announces that American planes undertook action that resulted in the death of the wanted terrorist Mokhtar Belmokhtar and a number of Libyans belonging to one of the terrorist groups in Eastern Libya, after consultation with the Libyan interim government to take action on terrorist leadership present on Libyan soil.”
Mokhtar Belmokhtar’s death was also confirmed by two Pentagon officials.
In 2012, Belmokhtar started his own terrorist organization, the Masked Brigade, or the Those who Sign with Blood Brigade. The Brigade was officially recognized by the U.S. as a terrorist organization a year later.
According to NPR, Belmokhtar led a terrorist attack in 2013 on an Algerian gas plant. The four-day attack ended the lives of at least 38 hostages. Three were Americans. Mokhtar Belmokhtar claimed responsibility for the attack and said it was done for al Qaeda.
To add to his notoriety, Belmokhtar was one of the first terrorists in al Qaeda who used hostages to raise money for the terror group. Notably, he once kidnapped a Canadian diplomat.
The U.S. was on the hunt for Belmokhtar since July 2013 when he was officially charged with terrorism and several conspiracy counts. A $5 million reward for any information leading to his arrest was offered.
Lately, clashes between the so-called Islamic State and al Qaeda have intensified, and it is not known whether Belmokhtar switched sides and pledged allegiance to the Islamic State.
The airstrike in Libya is still being assessed by U.S. officials, according to a Pentagon spokesperson.