A screen shot of a Chadian soldier’s mobile phone image that Chadian troops allege to be Mokhtar Belmokhtar.
New York- The first images have seeped out of the Franco-Chadian battles in the Adrar des Ifoghas and the Adrar Tigharghar areas of northeastern Mali’s Kidal Region today. Both Chadian state television and al-Jazeera Arabic gained (or were given) access. Contained briefly in the al-Jazeera English version of the AJA report was this fleeting image of a dead man alleged to be the notorious Mokhtar Belmokhtar, the AQIM/Signatories in Blood katiba leader.
Chadian TV describes its battle as one against “narco-terrorists” of “diverse nationalities” while displaying images of bedraggled captives, mud-caked technicals and dust-encrusted munitions. French news weekly Le Point has exclusive images of French soldiers captured war material from AQIM including a BM-21 Grad truck with a 40 shell Multiple Launch Rocket System.
Update: Long after I posted this, France publicly confirmed the death of AQIM’s Abou Zeid but never did such for the case of Belmokhtar. The fate of Belmokhtar is still the subject of wild speculation. Chadian President Idriss Déby Itno said firmly (if bizarrely) that Belmokhtar exploded himself after learning of the death of Abou Zeid in a moment of pure desperation. On the other hand, Algiers indicates that it believes Belmokhtar is in southern Libya-likley related to their version of deadly events surrounding the In Amenas gas plant raid. Only time will truly tell I suppose.
Thira- Today is my last day stranded in paradise here in Santorini. It has been a fantastic couple of weeks living in a volcanic cave at the aptly named Caveland in Karterados village. Soon I will be in the humdrum of an occupied Wall Street in Manhattan. My friend @RaymondPagnucco has a rocking clip today on CNN’s iReport from Martyr’s Square in Tripoli.
Thira- Looks like the last chapter in the Guide’s Green Book has finally been written. Wish that I was in Sirte right now. Instead I am in a paralyzed Greece. My buddy @RaymondPagnucco arrived in Tripoli this morning to finish a documentary about Libya that will be like no other. There won’t another cameraman there with the same story.
Thira- Since supposedly Awlaki is finally really dead if we’re to believe the Yemeni Defence Ministry, I decided to put up some images of al-Ribat al-Islami, the mosque where he preached before 9/11 in my old hometown of San Diego, ‘America’s Finest City.’ No doubt Glenn Greenwald is having a fit if it turns out Awlaki was zapped by a drone but honestly, will anyone miss the guy? Of course it would have been much better– in terms of the historical record anyway– if he…and ObL..had been captured alive and brought to trial. Another Obama victory that is also a failure if one believes that assassinating one’s own citizens is a grievous violation of the American constitution. With each drone hit, so much knowledge is lost. But what can we do when the Agency is running the whole paramilitary show in the shadows?