Algiers — Algerian forces killed a terrorist leader responsible for one of AQIM's strongholds.
Algerian troops killed the top al-Qaeda military commander for the Kabylie region, Tout sur l'Algerie quoted a security source as saying on Sunday (November 18th).
Makhfi Rabah, 45, aka Cheikh Abdenacer, was one of the three terrorists eliminated last Friday in a security operation in Bejaia, east of Algiers.
He had joined armed groups in the 1990's and risen to become a lieutenant to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) leader Abdelmalek Droukdel. Last March, he was sentenced in absentia to death by a Bouira court for murder.
Rabah was responsible for carrying out attacks on Algerian security forces in Kabylie, one of the terror group's strongholds.
AQIM's Kabylie leader was the presumed mastermind of an operation in mid-April that left 17 Algerian soldiers dead in Azazga. He also allegedly planned the June 15th attack on a security site in Ouacifs that killed 3 police agents and injured several civilians.
Rabah was in charge of military co-ordination between various battalions and cells in the area. He was also responsible for overseeing training camps in Yakourene, in the easternmost tip of Tizi Ouzou province. The ambush that took out Rabah was the latest in a series of operations against AQIM group leaders since the beginning of this year.
The first was the January 1st killing of Sidi Mohand Ouramdane, (aka El Khechkhache) emir of the Takhoukht cell. Next came Boualem Bekai (aka Khaled El Mig), who was in charge of foreign relations in AQIM.
Security forces also arrested the group's sharia officer in Ghardaia. Meanwhile, 4 emirs, including Heddad Fodhil (aka Abou Dedjana) of the El Forkane Brigade, voluntarily turned themselves in.
"The group is going through a critical time because of the security authorities' success in carrying out carefully planned operations targeting the group leaders, or the 'grey matter;'" security analyst Amer Wali told Magharebia.
"Each time, the group faces difficulties in finding replacements for its leaders," he said.
Kamal Hadef, a journalist specialising in security affairs, also noted that these recent security actions by Algerian forces have produced a "drop in both quality and quantity" of AQIM operations.