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.

 

Kerry meets Zarif on Iran nuclear deal, Yemen crisis

UN blames Israel for Gaza shelter attacks

New rebel alliance ups the ante on Syria regime

Arab Israelis observe general strike over house demolitions

Syrian rock bands finding safety in Lebanon

IS Libya killings videos haunts asylum seekers in Israel

Gulf foreign ministers set to meet with focus on Yemen war

Iran leads NAM calls for Israel to give up nuclear weapons

UN: Israeli actions killed 44 Palestinians at UN shelters

Journalists face ‘deadliest period’ in recent history

Leading member of Syria ‘tolerated’ opposition escapes to Spain

Arab coalition adopts two-pronged strategy to resolve Yemen conflict

‘Islamic State’ stones two men to death in Iraq

Coalition strikes continue as bread, medicine run short in Yemen

Guantanamo ex-inmates demand compensation from US

Novelists withdraw from NY gala in Charlie Hebdo protest

Islamist rebels overrun army base in Syria Idlib province

Iraq forces suffer heavy losses in battle of Ramadi

In new provocation, Iran Guards chief likens Saudi Arabia to Israel

Sudan president reelected with more than 94% of vote

Israel charges soldiers for theft in Gaza war

First Saudi National Guards deployed on Yemen border zone

Israel invites tenders for 77 East Jerusalem settler homes

Sudan to unveil election results

Sudan accuses UNAMID of killing civilians in Darfur

Turkey rounds up 350 migrants en route to Europe

Iraq army announces ‘progress’ in Anbar province

Will Somalia Shebab choose Qaeda or Islamic State?

Abbas condemns Israel killing of two young Palestinians in separate incidents

Civilian massacre in Syria northwestern town of Jisr al-Shughur

New UN envoy looks to revive talks as battles intensify across Yemen

‘Islamic State’ suicide bombers target Iraq-Jordan crossing

Four Egypt Islamists killed while preparing bombs

Extremist groups capture last major regime holdout in northwest Syria

‘Islamic State’ kills Iraq senior officers in Anbar province

Deadly fighting rages in Yemen southern towns

Entrepreneurs encourage people to ‘buy Syrian’

Over 100 children killed in Yemen since March 26

Libya militia alliance 'carries out air raids' against IS

UN 'confident' rebels will sign Mali peace deal

Petraeus gets two years probation for info leak

Iranian ships turn back from Yemen

Palestinians mourn as Jews celebrate

UN chief set to appoint Mauritanian diplomat as Yemen envoy

Obama takes 'full responsibility' for deaths of Qaeda hostages in US operation