AQIM got Libya weapons

Nouakchott - Al-Qaeda's North Africa franchise acknowledged it had acquired part of slain Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi's arsenal, in comments by one of its leaders quoted on Wednesday.

Mokhtar Belmokhtar, believed to be one of the leaders of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), made the remarks to Mauritanian news agency ANI, which has carried interviews and statements from the group in the past.

"We have been one of the main beneficiaries of the revolutions in the Arab world," said Belmokhtar, an Algerian national.

"As for our acquisition of Libyan armament, that is an absolutely natural thing," he said, without elaborating on the nature of the weapons purportedly acquired.

Officials and experts have expressed concern that part of Gaddafi's considerable stock of weapons could end up in the hands of AQIM, which has bases in the Sahel and currently holds several foreign hostages.

According to several experts, AQIM has acquired surface-to-air missiles which could pose a threat to flights over the region.

Belmokhtar also claimed a level of ideological convergence existed between his movement and the Islamist rebels who eventually toppled Gaddafi last month and became Libya's new rulers.

"We did not fight alongside them in the field against the Gaddafi forces," he said. "But young Islamists, jihadis... were the ones spearheading the revolution in Libya."

The National Transitional Council now in charge of Libya owes its victory over Gaddafi's 42-year rule partly to Western military backing and claims to seek the establishment of a moderate Islamic administration.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Rand - Dollar
15.43
-0.3%
Rand - Pound
21.04
-0.3%
Rand - Euro
17.59
-0.3%
Rand - Aus dollar
11.10
-0.1%
Rand - Yen
0.13
-0.1%
Gold
1,818.21
-0.1%
Silver
22.90
-0.5%
Palladium
1,884.50
+0.3%
Platinum
972.50
-0.4%
Brent Crude
86.48
+0.5%
Top 40
68,889
0.0%
All Share
75,594
0.0%
Resource 10
74,696
0.0%
Industrial 25
95,569
0.0%
Financial 15
15,498
0.0%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE