Identity of Dead Jihadist Remains Unclear

Portrait of Mokhtar Belmokhtar. Photo: of Chaos

Portrait of Mokhtar Belmokhtar. Photo: of Chaos

A photo taken by a RFI journalist in Tessalit, in Northern Mali, has added to the debate over whether or not two prominent Islamist militants remain active in Mali. The photograph is believed by some to be either of Abou Zeid and Mokhtar Belmokhtar, who may have been killed in an attack on March 2.

The image, taken by Madjiasra Nako Sunday, March 3, shows a bearded, bloodied corpse. Nako showed the photo to Chadian soldiers who claimed to recognize the body as Belmokhtar. RFI radio later announced that the photo was indeed the renowned Islamist leader, confirming his death.

However, another source has stated that the body is actually that of Abou Zeid, another leader in the region who was also expected to have died in the attack on the militant base in Northern Mali. Paris Match, who published the photo online, identified the body as Zeid. These conflicting reports surrounding the photo only further the uncertainty concerning Zeid and Belmokhtar’s whereabouts.

A Mauritanian news agency, Sahara Media, well known for their coverage of jihadists in the region, argued that the photo could be of any number of militants active in Mali.  In an interview with France 24, the director of the agency noted, “We can’t identify the body from the way the beard is trimmed because a lot of jihadists trim their beard in the same pointy way. This could be the body of any jihadist.”

French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian maintains that the death of neither Belmokhtar nor Zeid has been confirmed.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: