First Published: 2007-12-13

Ruthless chief, head of Al-Qaeda's NAfrica branch

Experts say Abdelmalek Droukdel introduced suicide bombings in Algeria, resorted to urban fighting.


Middle East Online

By Boubker Belkadi - ALGIERS

Believed to be in the mountains of Kabylie

The head of Al-Qaeda's North Africa branch, Abdelmalek Droukdel, is seen by experts as a ruthless chief who has resorted to urban fighting and introduced suicide bombings in Algeria.

The group, known officially as Al Qaeda's Branch in the Islamic Maghreb, has claimed responsibility for devastating twin car bomb attacks in Algiers on Tuesday at a UN office and in front of the Supreme Court that killed dozens.

It made the claim in a statement published on an Islamist website, the authenticity of which could not be immediately confirmed.

The 36-year-old leader, whose alias is Abou Moussaab Abdelouadoud, is said to have considered as his mentor Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian-born Al-Qaeda leader in Iraq killed by the US military last year.

Algerian security forces have mobilised thousands of officers to track Droukdel, who is believed to have taken refuge in the mountains of Kabylie, east of Algiers. He has managed to evade police and the army after being surrounded several times in recent months.

He has, however, lost several high-ranking members of his group in recent clashes with authorities.

"Droukdel's strategy involves two main points: attacks with explosives and a large amount of media attention on suicide attacks," said Algerian terrorism specialist Faycal Oukaci.

His young recruits are said to have come from poor neighbourhoods.

The group has claimed several attacks in the North African country this year that have killed more than 100 people.

Targets have included the government headquarters in Algiers, barracks in Lakhdaria and Dellys, and President Abdelaziz Bouteflika's convoy in Batna.

"Droukdel wants to reinstall Islamist guerrillas in large Algerian cities, especially in the capital, Algiers, where Al-Qaeda is assured media attention," said Oukaci.

He was born in 1971 in the poor Algerian neighbourhood of Zayane in Meftah. The area had been a stronghold of a former militant organisation, the Armed Islamic Group (GIA).

Droukdel arrived at the head of what was then called the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat in 2004, muscling his way in by brutally eliminating rivals. The group has since changed its name.

Rare photos published on the Internet have pictured him with a long, full beard, his dark eyes staring out under bushy brows. He wears a traditional robe under his military jacket, holsters across his chest, and a dark turban.

A computer specialist by training who also learned about explosives during his military service, Droukdel has put together "suicide commandos" in recent months whose members are completely committed to him, Oukaci said.

Their bedside reading is believed to include a military text written by their leader.


Iran wants closure of nuclear probe in order to implement deal

Bashir takes another step on path of rapprochement with Gulf countries

Iran General ‘seriously wounded’ in rocket attack in Syria

Saudi women begin first-ever campaigns for public office

Iran bars orchestra performance over women musicians

Kuwait names new acting Oil Minister in cabinet reshuffle

Number of ISIS executions hits more than 3,500 in Syria alone

‘Russia’ air strikes kill at least 18 civilians in Ariha town in Syria

EU offers Turkey cash, closer ties at migration summit

Turkey seeks to ease tensions with Moscow

Turkey protests against journalist arrests

Corbyn criticised over Syria air strike rejection

Saudi women begin first-ever election campaign

Russia prepares retaliation against Turkey

Tunisia to rethink anti-IS strategy

Cameron pushes for Britain to join Syria air strikes

Erdogan denies buying oil from IS

Lavrov says no war with Turkey after 'planned provocation'

Tunisia under state of emergency

Missing Iranian diplomat found dead in Saudi

Heavy Russia raids at site of Syria plane crash

Tunisia declares state of emergency after terrorist attack in heart of capital

Bahrain calls HRW torture report 'misleading'

Syria, Russia foreign ministers set Moscow talks

Rival Libya tribes sign peace deal to end months of fighting

Turkey reveals new cabinet of Erdogan allies

Turkey downs Russia Su-24 fighter jet on Syria border

Hopes fade away as Sudan peace talks break without deal

At least 6 dead in Libya bomb attack

Somali pirates seize Iran fishing boat with 15 crew

ISIS suicide bombers kill four in assault on Sinai hotel

Kerry visits Israel with scant hopes for major breakthrough

Hollande heads to Washington to seek support for war on ISIS

Brussels extends terror alert as US issues worldwide travel warning

UAE blames Islamists for delay in military operation in Taez

Egypt kills 5 Sudanese migrants near border with Israel

Anti-Muslim hate crimes rise 300 percent in Britain

Russia eases restrictions on nuclear cooperation with Iran

Gulf leaders to hold annual summit on December 10

Ex-Gathafi Minister arrested over murder of UK policewoman

UK boosts military spending as pressure grows to join anti-ISIS strikes

Israel bars Palestinians from West Bank settlement bloc

Iraq suspends northern flights due to danger posed by Russia missiles

Syria army advances against ISIS in central province of Homs

Pro-Kurdish leader escapes assassination attempt in Turkey