New name, old face behind Masked Brigade attack

Algeria | Whitney Williams

New name, old face behind Masked Brigade attack

An unconfirmed photo claims to show militant militia leader Moktar Belmoktar.
Associated Press/Photo by SITE Intel Group

A four-day siege at a natural gas plant in Algeria has left 37 foreign hostages dead, according to figures released by the Algerian government Monday.

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The crisis ended on Saturday when Algerian special forces stormed the plant, killing 23 hostages, including three Americans, and 32 Islamic extremists. On Sunday, soldiers combing the facility for more explosives found another 25 bodies. Several more hostages died earlier in the week when the Algerian army first stormed the compound.

The extremists, members of The Masked Brigade, a group with ties to al-Qaeda, attacked the isolated gas plant on Wednesday. The group, led by Moktar Belmoktar, claimed the attack was in retaliation for French intervention in neighboring Mali, where troops are trying to stop an advance by Islamic extremists seeking control of the country.

The crisis only confirms something President Barack Obama has long tried to hide, wrote Helle Dale of The Heritage Foundation—terrorism is alive and well, and,despite his boastful claims during the 2012 Presidential campaign, al-Qaeda is not “on the run.”

“The hostage crisis at a BP gas plant in Algeria this week reinforces the fact that al-Qaeda and its affiliates and sympathizers are back in force,” Dale wrote on The Foundry. “It is organized, well-armed, and on the move.”

Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal said on Monday his forced captured three of the attackers. The Prime Minister also said two Canadian nationals were among the band of al-Qaeda-linked militants who stormed the gas plant and took hundreds of workers hostage. 

According to the Associated Press, the militants said during the four-day standoff that their band included people from Canada, and hostages who escaped recalled hearing at least one of the militants speaking English with a North American accent.

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