Canada charges Maghreb al-Qaeda leader

2013-06-27 15:03
Canadian diplomat, Robert Fowler, UN envoy to Niger. (Habib Kouyate, AFP)

Canadian diplomat, Robert Fowler, UN envoy to Niger. (Habib Kouyate, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Ottawa - Canada lodged charges on Wednesday against Mohktar Belmohktar, former head of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (Aqim), for his role in the kidnapping of two diplomats five years ago, a spokesperson said Wednesday.

Aqim is known for the May suicide bombings in Niger that killed at least 20, as well as the dramatic January seizing of a desert gas plant in neighbouring Algeria in a siege that left 38 hostages dead, also in retaliation for intervention in Mali.

Back in December 2008 Aqim, snatched Canadian Robert Fowler, UN special envoy to Niger, and his assistant Louis Guay west of Niamey. Aqim claimed responsibility in February 2009 for the kidnapping of the Canadian diplomats, and of four European tourists snatched in January 2010.

After more than four months in detention at the hands of the group, the Canadians were finally released after a Malian mediator spoke with Belmohktar.

Federal police (RCMP) filed charges of kidnapping with the intent to raise money for terror against Belmohktar and Omar Ould Hamahathe for snatching the Canadians in Niger in 2008, said RCMP spokesperson Laurence Trottier.

While the hostages were abducted in Niger they were released in northern Mali close to the border. Both Mali and Niger have been plagued by Tuareg uprisings in the region making military control of the zone more difficult.

The Sahel, with vast stretches of inhospitable desert, is notoriously difficult to control. Rebel movements and other armed groups roam largely unhindered over borders between the countries.

Al-Qaeda of the Islamic Maghreb has said it intended to unify armed Islamist groups in Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco, as well as emerging groups in countries bordering the Sahara like Niger and Mali.

It has also claimed a series of deadly suicide bombings in Algeria, other attacks in the region and several kidnappings.

Born in the Algerian Sahara in 1972, Belmokhtar led the Aqim for years before leaving to lead a splinter group in late 2012.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.