Who is Abou Zeid?
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Chad's President Idriss Déby has confirmed press reports that Al-Qauda north Africa high-up Abou Zeid has been killed, although France has yet to officially say that is the case. But who is Abou Zeid?
- Mohamed Ghedir, known as Abdelhamid Abou Zeid, was born 46 years ago in Algeria, near the Libyan border.
- He was a smuggler who took up radical Islam in the 1990s and became one of the key leaders of Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (Aqim), believed to be commanding 200 seasoned fighters,mainly Algerians, Mauritanians and Malians, who were well-equipped and highly mobile.
- He is suspected of being behind a series of kidnappings and murders in several countries – among them UK national Edwin Dyer, abducted in Niger and killed in 2009, and 78-year-old French aid worker Michel Germaneau, killed in 2010.
- He is believed to have been holding a number of Western hostages, including four French citizens kidnapped in Niger in 2010.
- An Algiers court last year sentenced Abou Zeid in absentia to life in prison for having formed an international armed group involved in the kidnapping of foreigners.
- A body, believed to be his, was reportedly found after fighting with Aqim members in the Ifogha mountains in northern Mali and taken to Algiers for DNA tests. There are also reports that his gun was found, adding credibility to claims that he is dead.
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