An Algerian court has sentenced the fugitive leader of Al Qaeda’s north African branch to death in absentia, after convicting him and eight co-defendants of murder, membership of a terrorist organization and attacks using explosives.
Abdelmalek Droukdel, a 41-year-old trained engineer who uses the alias Abou Mossab Abdelwadoud, is head of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Magreb, and is believed to have introduced suicide bombings to Algeria, according to the BBC.
He was among 18 people, nine of whom were absent, to be put on trial over three bomb attacks in Algerian capital Algiers in April 2007, which left 22 people dead and more than 200 wounded.
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The first attack saw a suicide bomber drive a car packed with explosives into a guard post outside the prime minister’s office in the center of the city, killing 12, according to the Agence France Presse.
Minutes later, the drivers of two other vehicles triggered explosions in the eastern suburb of Bab Ezzouar, on the road to Algeria’s international airport and not far from one of the country’s biggest universities.
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Al Qaeda in the Islamic Magreb operates in the deserts of Algeria, Mali, Mauritania and Niger, according to GlobalPost. It is made up of a few hundred terrorists of different nationalities hiding in the Sahel region, analysts say, and its stated aim is to create a unified Islamic state in northern Africa.
Droukdel, who fought in Afghanistan, is believed to regard Al Qaeda’s former leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, as his inspiration.
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