The Wall Street Journal on July 21, 2013 released the following:
By Margaret Coker
“U.S. prosecutors have unsealed an indictment charging Mokhtar Belmokhtar with masterminding the deadly terrorist attack earlier this year at a southern Algerian gas plant that killed dozens of workers, including three Americans.
Mr. Belmokhtar, an Algerian national who leads an al-Qaeda-inspired Islamist militia in anti-Western attacks across North Africa, is described in the indictment which was announced Friday by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara as a “fanatical jihadist” who “unleashed a reign of terror … in furtherance of his self-proclaimed goal of waging bloody jihad against the West.”
Mr. Belmokhtar, who was not known to be present during the gas plant attack, is currently at large. The U.S. government has put a $5 million reward for information leading to his capture or death.
The legal charges, described in an eight-count complaint, are related to this year’s attack on the gas plant operated by British Petroleum, Norway’s Statoil, Japan’s JGC Corp. and Algeria’s Sonatrach, as well as other terrorist attacks allegedly committed by al Qaeda-linked organizations and Mr. Belmokhtar over several years. The charges include conspiracy to provide material support to al-Qaeda, kidnapping of internationally protected persons and conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction.
U.S. authorities have been pursuing charges against Mr. Belmokhtar primarly because of the loss of American lives in the Jan. 16 incident whereby a militia under Mr. Belmokhtar’s control invaded the Tiguentourine gas plant in southern Algeria. After a four-day siege, the Algerian military sent anti-terrorist troops to free the hostages, sparking heated battles with Mr. Belmokhtar’s men. A total of 37 hostages were killed, including three U.S. citizens.
On the day after the siege ended, Mr. Belmokhtar appeared in an online video claiming responsibility for the attack on behalf of al-Qaeda.
U.S. officials said that this claim was confirmed by three of the hostage-takers involved in the siege who were arrested and detained by Algerian authorities and later separately interviewed by U.S. law enforcement officers. The hostage-takers each acknowledged their membership in an al Qaeda group, of which Mr. Belmokhtar was the “emir,” and further stated that they had received military training in another country prior to traveling to Algeria to conduct the attack in the name of al Qaeda, according to a press release issued by the FBI on Friday.
“Belmokhtar brought terror and blood to these innocent people and now we intend to bring Belmokhtar to justice,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement.
Mr. Belmokhtar was designated as a foreign terrorist by the U.S. Department of Treasury in 2003 for his participation in al Qaeda-linked organizations across North Africa, but until the January attack he was not known to have killed any Americans. According to the indictment, Mr. Belmokhtar orchestrated terror attacks including the kidnapping of U.N. diplomats and other Western hostages.”
Mr. Belmokhtar is also on Interpol’s Red Notice List here.
Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
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