The war between Arab nationalist regimes and Islamic insurgency groups continues.
The Middle East Newsline says Algerian security sources have said Abu Harith al-Libya, a leading commander of the al-Qaida Organization (AQIM) in North Africa, was killed in a clash with security forces in the southern part of the country.
“Abu Harith was a key operative who helped AQIM smuggle weapons and drugs as well as abduct Westerners,” a security source said.
Abu Harith, his nomme de guerre, was killed on Monday in Tanan, near the Algerian border with Mali. They said Abu Harith, believed to be a Libyan, was the No. 2 figure in the Tariq Bin Ziyad, a leading element of AQIM.
AdSys ad not found for top_stories/bullet_points:instory –>
In the clash, another AQIM operative was killed in Tanan, about 1,500 miles south of Algiers.
Algerian special forces had spotted a suspected AQIM squad amid the state of alert along the Algerian-Mali border. Algerian security forces had been on high alert amid AQIM’s threat to kill a British national by mid-May. AQIM has demanded the release of a leading al-Qaida operative, Abu Qatada, held in Britain and set for extradition to Jordan.
Tariq Bin Ziyad was established by Amari Saifi, who helped establish the Salafist Brigade for Combat and Call, which merged with al-Qaida in 2006 to form AQIM. Tariq Bin Ziyad has been operating in southern Algeria near the border with Mali, which has become a stronghold for al-Qaida.
Last Saturday, Mali announced the arrest of four Algerians said to work for AQIM. Mali has come under African and Western pressure to launch a crackdown on the Islamic insurgency in the wake of AQIM’s abduction of Westerners in late 2008 and early 2009.
David Bedein can be reached at email@example.com