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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Al Qaida commander killed by Algerian security

CAIRO — A leading Al Qaida operative has been killed in Algeria.   

Algerian security sources said Abu Harith Al Libya was killed in a clash with security forces in the southern part of the country. Al Harith was identified as a leading commander of the Al Qaida Organization in the Islamic Maghreb.

"Abu Harith was a key operative who helped AQIM smuggle weapons and drugs as well as abduct Westerners," a security source said.

The sources said Al Harith, his nomme de guerre, was killed on April 27 in Tanan, near the Algerian border with Mali. They said Al Harith, believed to be a Libyan, was the No. 2 figure in the Tariq Bin Ziyad, a leading element of AQIM.

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In the clash, another AQIM operative was killed in Tanan, about 2,000 kilometers south of Algiers. The sources said Algerian special forces spotted a suspected AQIM squad amid the state of alert along the Algerian-Mali border.

Algerian security forces have been on high alert amid AQIM's threat to kill a British national by mid-May. AQIM has demanded the release of a leading Al Qaida operative, Abu Qatada, held in Britain and set for extradition to Jordan.

Tariq Bin Ziyad was established by Amari Saifi, who helped establish the Salafist Brigade for Combat and Call, which merged with Al Qaida in 2006 to form AQIM. Tariq Bin Ziyad has been operating in southern Algeria near the border with Mali, which has become a stronghold for Al Qaida.

On April 25, Mali announced the arrest of four Algerians said to work for AQIM. Mali has come under African and Western pressure to launch a crackdown on the Islamic insurgency in wake of AQIM's abduction of Westerners in late 2008 and early 2009.

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