Maybe if it had been a one-eyed bomb targeting a 500-pound jihad leader, it would have been successful. But these one-eyed guys are not so easy to strike down.
Keystone Kops Alert: “Militant says 500-pound U.S. bombs missed one-eyed terrorist leader with a history of dodging death,” by Sarah El Deeb and Lolita C. Baldor, Associated Press, June 15, 2015:
CAIRO • The U.S military says it launched weekend airstrikes targeting and likely killing an al-Qaida-linked militant leader in eastern Libya charged with leading the attack on a gas plant in Algeria in 2013 that killed at least 35 hostages.
An Islamist with ties to Libyan militants, however, said the airstrikes missed Mokhtar Belmokhtar.
Instead, the missiles killed four members of a Libyan extremist group that the U.S. has linked to the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi.
U.S. officials said they are still assessing the results of the Saturday strike, but Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren said the military believes the strike was successful and hit the target. Neither U.S. officials nor the Libyan government provided proof of Belmokhtar’s death, which likely requires a DNA test or an announcement by Belmokhtar’s group that he was killed.
“I can confirm that the target of last night’s counterterrorism strike in Libya was Mokhtar Belmokhtar,” Warren said Sunday.
“Belmokhtar has a long history of leading terrorist activities as a member of (al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb), is the operational leader of the al-Qaida-associated al-Murabitun organization in northwest Africa and maintains his personal allegiance to al-Qaida.”
A U.S. official said two F-15 fighter jets launched multiple 500-pound bombs in the attack. The official was not authorized to discuss the details of the attack publicly so spoke on condition of anonymity. Authorities say no U.S. personnel were on the ground for the assault.
But this isn’t the first time authorities have claimed to have killed Belmokhtar, a militant believed to be 43 who reportedly lost his eye in combat and fought in Afghanistan. He was one of a number of Islamist fighters who have battled Algeria’s government since the 1990s, later joining al-Qaida.
An al-Qaeda letter obtained by The Associated Press suggests Belmoktar pocketed about US$1-million for the release of Canadian diplomat Robert Fowler in Niger four years ago.
The letter was sent by al-Qaeda’s North African branch to Belmoktar, who split from the group to conduct his own operations, including the Fowler kidnapping in December 2008.
Fowler, the highest-ranking UN official in Niger, and his colleague Louis Guay, were kidnapped and held for four months before being released in April 2009.
The letter said that a plan to force concessions in the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan was stymied when Belmoktar struck his own deal for about $1-million for both men.
Interpol has issued an international arrest warrant for Moktar Belmoktar in connection with the kidnapping of Canadian diplomat Robert Fowler and his colleague Louis Guay in December 2008.
Belmokhtar is also known as Belaouer the One Eyed, Abou al-Abbes and Mister Marlboro, the last name a play on the fact he’s accused of smuggling contraband cigarettes through the Sahara and the Sahel.