Algeria’s Al Qaeda Leader Killed
The Algerian army has killed the leader of North Africa’s largest and most dangerous Islamic terrorist organization in a gun battle east of Algiers, according to the country’s official news agency, dealing a serious blow to Al Qaeda’s affiliates in the region.
The death of Nabil Sahrawi, the leader of the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, follows earlier reports that the group’s founder, Hassan Hattab, is dead and comes amid an Algerian operation to take custody of another of the group’s leaders, Amari Saifi, from a Chadian rebel group in the Sahara desert.
The G.S.P.C. leadership has been “completely neutralized” in a “vast anti-terrorist operation,” an Algerian military officer was quoted as saying by the APS news agency.
The news agency reported that Mr. Sahrawi, also known as Abu Ibrahim Mustapha, was killed with four other senior members of his group in a shootout on Friday in the mountainous Bejaia area of Kabylie, a center of anti-government activity about 150 miles east of Algiers. The army has been hunting Mr. Sahrawi since a dozen Algerian soldiers were killed in a G.S.P.C. ambush in the region earlier this month.
Terrorism experts regard the G.S.P.C. as North Africa’s largest, best organized and best financed Islamic terrorist group with links to Al Qaeda and with operatives across Europe. The group, an offshoot of Algeria’s Armed Islamic Group, or G.I.A., has been fighting to establish an Islamic state in North Africa and has also plotted to carry out terrorist attacks in Europe.
Excellent news, especially coming on the heels of the killing of his Saudi counterpart Abdel Aziz al-Muqrin. Certainly, killing off al Qaeda leaders here and there won’t cripple the organization anytime soon; it’s too large and entrenched for that. Still, it’s a start.