Bamako: Algerian Djamel Okacha has become the new leader of al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghrib, an off-shot of the world terror outfit in Sahara, replacing the slain Abdelhamid Abou Zeid, Algerian Ennahar TV said on Sunday.
Abou Zeid was killed by Chadian soldiers in northern Mali a few weeks ago. France launched a joint military campaign with some African armies in Mali in January to break Islamist rebels’ hold on the region, saying the militants posed a risk to the security of West Africa and Europe.
Okacha, also known as Yahia Abu El Hamam, joined AQIM northern Mali in 2004, a security source with knowledge of AQIM told Reuters.
“He was present at the attack against a military barracks in Mauritania in 2005, and he was also present in the killing of an American in 2009,” the source said, referring to aid worker Christopher Leggett.