Libya arrests wife of wanted one-eyed militant leader Mokhtar Belmokhtar
BENGHAZI // Libyan authorities said on Tuesday that they have arrested a wife of the one-eyed militant leader Mokhtar Belmokhtar, once considered the most dangerous man in the Sahara and a veteran Al Qaeda-linked figure.
A Libyan antiterrorism force said that one of Belmokhtar’s wives, Asma Kadousi, was arrested on Saturday along with a female companion. She had recently given birth in the militant stronghold of Darna, eastern Libya, it said, adding that Belmokhtar is believed to be in southern Libya.
Earlier this month, a witness said he had seen Belmokhtar in the southern town of Sabha. A drone attack in the town reportedly killed a militant leader linked to Belmokhtar, along with six others, last week. The Algerian militant, once the leader of Al Qaeda’s North African affiliate, is one of the most-wanted militants in the region, with a US$5 million (Dh18.4m) reward for information leading to his capture. He escaped a US drone strike in eastern Libya last year.
Belmokhtar led the January 2013 attack on Algeria’s Ain Amenas gas complex, in which at least 35 hostages, including three Americans, were killed. Believed to be 43 years old, he was dubbed “the one-eyed sheikh” after losing an eye in combat.
He was later named the leader of the Morabitoon, an Al Qaeda-linked group that operates in northern and western Africa, according to the Long War Journal, a blog that monitors extremist groups.
Libya has been plagued by chaos since the 2011 uprising, in which US and European airstrikes helped rebels overthrow the longtime dictator, Muammar Qaddafi.
Today much of the country is controlled by a patchwork of armed groups, some allied to a UN-backed government based in the capital, Tripoli, and others allied to authorities based in the country’s far east.
The UN-brokered government on Tuesday condemned the killing of a senior religious official who was abducted in Tripoli a month ago. It was not clear who killed Nader Al Omrani, but he was a member of a religious body that is strongly opposed to the controversial general Khalifa Haftar who leads forces allied with the eastern government.
* Associated Press
Updated: November 22, 2016 04:00 AM