Us Targets Al-Qaeda-Linked Leader in Libya

Us Targets Al-Qaeda-Linked Leader in LibyaUs Targets Al-Qaeda-Linked Leader in Libya

The US military said it launched weekend airstrikes targeting and likely killing an Al-Qaeda-linked militant leader in eastern Libya charged with leading the attack on a gas plant in Algeria in 2013 which killed at least 35 hostages.

However, a source close to Libyan militants said the airstrikes missed Mokhtar Belmokhtar, instead killing four members of a Libyan extremist group the US has linked to the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi that killed ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, AP reported.

Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren said the military believes the strike was successful and hit the target. Neither US officials nor the Libyan government provided proof of Belmokhtar’s death.

Warren said Belmokhtar has a long history of leading terrorist activities as the operational leader of the al-Qaeda-associated al-Murabitun organization in northwest Africa and maintains his personal allegiance to the militant group.

A US official said two F-15 fighter jets launched multiple 500-pound bombs in the attack. Authorities said no US personnel were on the ground for the assault.

But this isn’t the first time authorities have claimed to have killed Belmokhtar, who is believed to be 43 and reportedly lost an eye in combat in Afghanistan. He was one of a number of militants who has battled Algeria’s government since the 1990s, later joining Al-Qaeda.

US authorities had offered a $5-million reward for information leading to the arrest of Belmokhtar.

The airstrike comes as al-Qaeda militants in eastern Libya continue to battle with members of the Islamic State, as the warring groups fight over power and resources.