Enemy Commander Confirmed Killed
IFOGHAS MOUNTAINS--Chad's president had said earlier this month that Chadian troops had killed Abou Zeid while fighting to dislodge an Al Qaeda affiliate in northern Mali. French officials have maintained for weeks that Abou Zeid was "probably" dead but waited to conduct DNA tests to verify.
Abdelhamid Abou Zeid, thought to be 47, was a pillar of the southern realm of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM, responsible for the death of at least two European hostages and a leader of the extremist takeover of northern Mali.
A powerful and shadowy figure, mystery surrounds even his real name. Along with his nom de guerre, Abou Zeid had an alias, Mosab Abdelouadoud, and nicknames, the emir of the south and the little emir, due to his diminutive size. But the Algerian press has raised questions about his legal identity -- Abid Hamadou or Mohamed Ghedir.
He was viewed as a disciplined radical with close ties to the overall AQIM boss, Abdelmalek Droukdel, who oversees operations from his post in northern Algeria.
Abou Zeid fought with a succession of Islamist insurgency movements trying to topple the Algerian state since 1992. He reportedly joined the brutal, and now defunct, Armed Islamic Group that massacred whole villages in northern Algeria, then joined the Salafist Group for Call and Combat that morphed into Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in 2006.
An Algerian court tried him in absentia in January 2012, convicting him of belonging to an international terrorist group and sentencing him to life in prison.