News / Africa

Chad Says Forces Killed Top Al-Qaida Commander in Mali

This image released on December 25, 2012 by Sahara Media, shows one of the leaders of al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Abdelhamid Abou Zeid in an undisclosed place. This image released on December 25, 2012 by Sahara Media, shows one of the leaders of al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Abdelhamid Abou Zeid in an undisclosed place.
This image released on December 25, 2012 by Sahara Media, shows one of the leaders of al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Abdelhamid Abou Zeid in an undisclosed place.
This image released on December 25, 2012 by Sahara Media, shows one of the leaders of al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Abdelhamid Abou Zeid in an undisclosed place.
Anne Look
French and Chadian forces battling Islamist militants in Mali's remote northeastern mountains are believed to have killed a top al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb commander known as Abdelhamid Abou Zeid, though the fate of at least four French hostages that Abou Zeid was thought to be holding nearby remains unknown. 

Chad's president says Abou Zeid and another al-Qaida commander were among those killed in ongoing military operations in the area. French authorities are not confirming the reports.

Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM)

- Formed in the 1990s to fight Algeria's secular government
- Wants to rid North Africa of western influence and impose sharia
- Estimated to have amassed $100 million in kidnapping ransoms
- Most members are from outside Mali
The Algerian-born jihadist, if his death is confirmed, could be a significant blow in the ongoing war against the al-Qaida-linked rebels who seized control of northern Mali last April.

Zeid has been described as inflexible, cruel, violent, audacious, intelligent, radical and without pity. He was born in Algeria and commands a southern battalion of al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, known as AQIM.  His command is known to be one of AQIM's most radical factions.

A smuggler by trade, Abou Zeid fought in a succession of armed Algerian Islamist movements in the 1990s.  He headed south to Mali about a decade ago as part of the Algerian-led Salafist movement that would ultimately rebrand itself as AQIM in 2006.

Mauritanian journalist and AQIM expert Isselmou Ould Moustapha said in killing Abou Zeid, the French and allied forces in Mali would be knocking out a formidable enemy.

He says Abou Zeid is one of the "most daring and determined" commanders that coalition forces currently face in Mali, even though Abou Zeid does not currently hold the post of "emir of the Sahara," or the chief of AQIM southern operations. 

Abdelhamid Abou Zeid

- Also known as Abid Hammadou
- A top leader of al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb
- Designated a terrorist by U.S. and U.N.
- Blamed for several kidnappings for ransom of tourists in the Sahel
- Believe to be behind execution of a British and French hostage
- Led attack on Mauritanian military outpost in 2005
- Established AQIM camp in Mali to train terrorists
Moustapha says over the past decade, Abou Zeid has taken on the Mauritanian, Nigerien and Malian armies and made a name for himself engineering kidnappings in 2008, 2009 and 2010.  He characterizes Abou Zeid as a powerful field commander who could mobilize fighters as determined as him.

He rose to international infamy for his involvement in kidnapping dozens of European hostages in the Sahel, beginning in 2003.

The operations took in millions of dollars in ransoms, money that analysts say was key to funding AQIM, while all the while being known as a tough negotiator.

Abou Zeid is believed to be behind the executions of two hostages: British tourist Edwin Dyer in 2009 and French aid worker Michel Germaneau in 2010.

You May Like

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Brad Naksuthin
March 03, 2013 9:04 AM

How come the French army can march into Mali and rout the Islamist in a matter of weeks...and the most expensive and best equipped army on earth has been stuck in Afghanistan for 11 years now...with no end in sight...fighting a rag tag bunch of illiterate Muslim farmers who have no tanks, no helicopters, no nuclear submarines, no aircraft carriers, no drones, no night vision goggles, no satellite communications trucks, no THAAD radar systems, no ICMBs, no SM3.....

I'm getting the sneaky feeling that US military contractors don't really want to see Afghanistan come to an end at all. so they are pushing their Pentagon minions to keep the war going on indefinitely. Ten billion dollars a month in Afghanistan is real incentive to keep us fighting for another 11 years

by: Anonymous
March 01, 2013 4:19 PM
One more down, one billion to go ...

By the Numbers

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs