Hizbullah leader traveling as businessman said killed in Air Algerie crash

Special to WorldTribune.com

CAIRO — A leading member of the Iranian-sponsored Hizbullah was said to have been killed in an Algerian airline crash.

An Algerian daily reported that a senior Hizbullah operative was killed in the crash of an Air Algerie jet in Mali on July 24. The Echrouk newspaper said the Hizbullah agent, who was not identified, was posing as a businessman in Africa.

An Air Algerie plane crash in Mali on July 24 killed 118 people.
An Air Algerie jet crash in Mali on July 24 killed 118 people.

“A Lebanese Hizbullah leader who operates as a businessman who traveled from and to Senegal and Burkina Faso, was also among the victims of the crash,” Echrouk said.

In a report on July 26, the Algerian newspaper did not name the Hizbullah leader. Echrouk said the Lebanese embassy in Algiers requested information on Lebanese nationals killed in the air crash.

Western diplomatic sources said Hizbullah, with help from Iran, has developed a significant presence in Africa. The sources said Hizbullah was operating in several African states and heavily involved in the diamond trade in the west.

So far, the Air Algerie crash was attributed to bad weather. But officials, citing Al Qaida-aligned forces in the area, could not rule out a missile attack or sabotage.

“We believe that the plane crashed for reasons related to weather, although we can not rule out any theory for the present time,” French Interior Minister Bernard Kazov said.

Echrouk said the crash also killed 33 personnel of France’s military as well as three senior intelligence officers. The newspaper said the French personnel were stationed in Mali as well as other countries in Africa.

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