Friday, 16 May 2014

Sahara: One dead, one alive?

There were reports in the French media at the end of April, notably in AFP, that Haroune Said, a former colonel in the Mali army who had deserted and become Iyad Ag Ghali’s right hand man, had been killed in a French military operation north of Kidal on 24–25 April.

Although Colonel Gilles Jaron, speaking for the French General Staff, did not confirm that the dead jihadist was Said, sources in the Mali military and the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) both told AFP that it was. For a short while, there were also ill-founded rumours that Iyad himself had been killed. These may have stemmed from unverified reports on local social media some two weeks earlier that intimated as much.

Authoritative local sources are fairly certain, however, that Iyad, now wanted as a designated international terrorist, is being sheltered by the authorities in Algeria. It is widely believed that he is being housed just across the border in Tin Zaouatene, although his presence has also been reported in Tamanrasset. Confirmation was also received this month from a former high-ranking US intelligence officer responsible for the sector that Iyad was being sheltered by Algeria.

For more news and expert analysis about the Sahara region, please see Sahara Focus.
© 2014 Menas Associates


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