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Al-Qaeda appoints new Sahara emir

By Walid Ramzi in Algiers and Jemal Oumar in Nouakchott for Magharebia – 08/10/12

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Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb's (AQIM) Shura council named Al Vourghan brigade chief Jemal Oukacha, alias Yahya Abou El Hammam, as its new Sahara emir, ANI reported Thursday (October 4th).

Citing an AQIM leader, ANI reported that Abdel Mejid Abou Zeid was appointed Abou El Hammam's deputy. The news came one month after former Sahara emir Nabil Makloufi, alias Nabil Abu Alqama, was killed in a car crash between Gao and Timbuktu.

Abou El Hammam, an Algerian national, is one of the most prominent al-Qaeda leaders in northern Mali, and is close to AQIM chief Abdelmalek Droukdel (alias Abou Moussaab Abdelouadoud). Earlier this year, Abou El Hammam was appointed Timbuktu governor.

Jemal Oukacha hails from Réghaia, east of Algiers. The 34-year-old is close to Droukdel and one of his top lieutenants in the Sahel. Abou El Hammam was detained in Algiers in late 1990s and spent 18 months in prison before he was acquitted and released. Directly after that, he joined Algeria's GSPC, which later changed its name to AQIM.

In 2004, he joined fighters in northern Mali and southern Algeria where he served under the command of Khaled Abou El Abbas, who was then emir of the Sahara. Abou El Hammam was sentenced to death in absentia by a Biskra court in 2006 terror case. France also accuses him of killing Michel Germaneau, a French national who was kidnapped and killed by AQIM.

Abou El Hammam took part in several clashes with the Algerian and Mauritanian armies, including a 2005 attack on Lemgheity barracks in northern Mauritania in which 17 Mauritanian soldiers and six militants were killed. At the end of 2007, he personally commanded El Ghallaouiya operation in which three Mauritanian soldiers were killed near the city of Ouadane, Adrar province. He also took part in the 2008 Tourine attack, which was led by Abdelhamid Abou Zeid, emir of the Tariq Ibn Ziyad brigade.

AQIM leaders are trying to put an end to differences between Sahara emirs. But it also excludes Moulethemine brigade leader Mokhtar Belmokhtar (alias Khaled Abou El Abass or "Laaouar"), who has recently sparked conflicting reports about assassination attempts against him by MUJAO militants.

While a spokesperson for the Moulethemine Brigade categorically denied that Belmokhtar was wounded, his wife's uncle who lives in Timbuktu told Algeria's El Khabar daily that Belmokhtar was injured in an armed clash. He added that he contacted one person close to Belmokhtar who confirmed the news.

Journalist Abi Ould Zidan noted that it was Abou El Hammam's brigade holding French hostages. His brigade is also a mixture of different components, including Algerians, Mauritanians, Malians and Moroccans; something that gives it much force and importance for the organisation.

"In short, we can say that Yahya Abou El Hammam is a consensus choice for those who carry arms in AQIM's different factions, including MUJAO and Ansar al-Din, and that he has the same value with AQIM-allied networks, such as smugglers, beneficiaries and tribal dignitaries," political analyst Ahmed Ould al-Salek told Magharebia.

Ould al-Salek added, "This is quite understandable at a time when the world is preparing to launch a war against these groups."

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  1. Anonymous thumb

    Terrien en détresse ... 2012-10-22

    To Nord Alg– Indeed, "kho"! This Lilliputian and his Saudi acolyte are the cash-drawer of the West’s infernal machination against Africa in general and the Muslims in particular. Wahhabism is the weapon of war for Judeo-Christian imperialism. The campaign of the "Arab spring" has been yet another demonstration of this. All these Arab springs are today very long and hard polar winters for the democrats, patriots and all the progressive forces for the peoples, who have been thwarted and grossly caricatured by the degrading image of mercenary Islamists, the rear guard of our peoples, who have made so much progress since their colonial night. That is what the evil forces allied with the obsolete, deadly, hegemonic project, which has no chance of winning despite the deployed war-mongering violence, are fighting against. The monarchical leaders and their servants have nothing to offer, not even a “spring”, which is prohibited for them at home. They are in their twilight and acting in desperation. A Muslim does not fathom escaping his destiny, but they are trying to escape theirs!?! Now, the die is cast, and the UN has played roulette with the lives of thousands of Africans, granting a “license to kill” our peoples to these predators, who have never stopped murdering us under a thousand fallacious pretexts supposed to justify their criminal interference. The era of the Sahelian Quagmire is beginning. Only the place is changing, but the scenario and the strategy are the same and the UN is playing its role without qualms. Martyred humanities hope is the salvation of the brother peoples of the North, who are riled up from Lisbon to New York. It is time to do better than getting indignant!


  2. Anonymous thumb

    nord alg 2012-10-18

    All this scheming does not uniquely go on the Westerners’ record. The Emirate of Qatar, that miniscule state with its adolescent prince, is assuming all the rights to this claim. It is the banker for terrorism and the friend of the USA and Israel. It supports a lot of things in this mess that is the so-called Arab spring.


  3. Anonymous thumb

    Terrien 2012-10-14

    The dear Daniel Balavoine, who is surely in a heaven of beautiful souls, said it well: “We are earthlings in distress.” Our peoples of the Sahel are in very great distress and the worst is yet to come. After these crazy mercenary Islamist legions, the empire will come!!! God Almighty, have pity on your creatures and neutralise these godless and lawless aliens with a bolt of lightning! The diabolic machine that is the UN, which is raging all over the galaxy on the money of the poor and in the service of the raptors, who do not give it a dime, just voted in a license to kill in the Sahel in the name of the international community for the benefit of the imperialists alone. Yet, the UN decisions only represent a club of five predators on human kind. Were we, the peoples of the Sahel, consulted in any way? Who can authorise killing in our name??? No one!!! This is the work of François Holland, who, according to well-informed sources, only travels in TGV rail as does his wife. But how did he get to Senegal, which, as everyone knows, does not have its own TGV yet. The François family is following him and gathering together, unfortunately! As soon as they got into power, they took the tour of Africa, repeating like the autistic people that they are. “Françafrique is done with! Nicolas did it!” And how is it done with since the same interests are governing this confused world? At the same time, the facts show the contrary: bloody military interventions and a full range of predatory interferences. When will there be a people’s revolution in these predatory, cynical states, which have nothing left to offer their peoples but terrorist scheming, Islamaphobia and unemployment? The indignant people from Lisbon to Paris, from Tel Aviv to New York are going to end up saying “Stop!”