It seems fitting that the One-Eyed terrorist would demand release of the Blind-Sheik, Omar Abdel-Rahman, for release of two American hostages in Algeria. The demand was for the release of the Blind-Sheik and one other Western-held terrorist.
His entourage calls him “the Prince,” and after the militant Islamist takeover of a town in northern Mali last year, he liked to go down to the river and watch the sunset, surrounded by armed bodyguards.
Others call him “Laaouar,” or the One-Eyed, after he lost an eye to shrapnel; some call him “Mr. Marlboro” for the cigarette-smuggling monopoly he created across the Sahel region to finance his jihad. And French intelligence officials called him “the Uncatchable” because he escaped after apparently being involved in a series of kidnappings in 2003 that captured 32 European tourists, an undertaking which is thought to have earned him millions of dollars in ransoms.
Mokhtar Belmokhtar, 40, born in the Algerian desert city of Ghardaïa, 350 miles south of Algiers, is now being called the mastermind of the hostage crisis at an internationally run natural-gas facility in eastern Algeria. (more at the New York Times)
Read the full article for details about Mokhtar Belmokhtar's rise in terrorism, very interesting. Only 40 years old he has had a busy life in terror, Islam's holy war, and plain old criminal activities - kidnapping, hostage-takings and subsequent negotiations for their release in 2003, 2008 and 2009; smuggling of cigarettes, stolen cars, arms, drugs; supplying weapons for and planning attacks on Algerian soil, targets were said to include pipelines and oil company installations in southern Mali.
There are missing citizens from the USA, France, the UK, Japan, and more. About 60 foreign hostages are still unaccounted for. Mokhtar threatened to kill all the hostages if the Algerian forces tried to liberate them.
The UK Guardian has live updates on the situation.
Algerian military still looking for terrorists and hostages
• Mokhtar Belmokhtar's group responsible
• UK was not told in advance of Algerian attack on kidnappers
• Number of Britons involved 'significantly less than 30'
• Unknown numbers dead or wounded
There are reports today that the U.S. Air Force "is in the process of evacuating Americans and other individuals." However, accurate reporting from the area is hard to find and hard to verify. We do know that some of the hostages escaped at the time of the original attack by disguising themselves as members of a local catering company and slipping away.