Nouakchott — A senior leader in the Movement for Tawhid and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), known as the "Butcher of Gao" for his harsh application of Sharia law, was arrested Monday (July 28th).
Yoro Ould Daha was apprehended by French forces in Gao, northern Mali. He stands accused of participating in an attack on a French military convoy on July 14th, which left one soldier dead.
Ould Daha is around forty and of Arab decent, RFI reported. A direct ally to the Signed in Blood group of terrorist Mokhtar Belmokhtar (aka "Laaouar"), he headed up the Islamist police in Gao in 2012.
He soon made a reputation for himself in northern Mali for cutting off the hands of many citizens under the pretext of implementing Sharia. His actions caused panic among the population.
But before his involvement with MUJAO, Ould Daha was a simple food merchant, MaliJet reported. He joined the armed movement at its inception.
"Yoro Ould Daha was the most feared one during the rule of MUJAO," said Anara Ag Ali, a young Gao activist. "He had no pity, mercy, or compassion in his heart, especially when he flogged people or cut off their hands."
"I've seen him several times walking around in the streets and people in Gao avoided confronting him," Ag Ali told Magharebia.
"He disappeared when French troops entered the city, and now we feel great joy for his arrest and seek to take revenge on him through the justice system," he added.
Ould Daha was one of the three main characters in Gao during the rule of the terrorist groups, Maliweb reported.
"The arrest of high-level terrorists could lead to important information on other dangerous elements, including Laaouar, who is the main partner for MUJAO," analyst Sid Ahmed Ould Ibrahim told Magharebia.
Laaouar has had extensive ties with the Arabs of northern Mali for a number of years, recruiting many local youths into the ranks of his fighters, Ould Ibrahim added. The Algerian even married a woman from the Arabs of northern Mali.
The alliance that the fugitive terrorist wove with the MUJAO and its many Arabs from the region was based on trust, the security analyst said.
That relationship continues today, Ould Ibrahim added.