A telegram channel close to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) recently released an eulogy in tribute to Mokhtar Akkouri, or by his nom de guerre Abu Omar al-Tunisi. Akkouri born 1985 in Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia was a jihadist veteran, during the years 2006-2007 involved in what has come to be known as the Soliman events, Akkouri back then a member of the Soldiers of Assad Ibn al-Fourat, a Tunisian branch of the Algerian Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC). GSPC which during the same period evolved into Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. Akkouri received an eight-year sentence in 2008 accused of having sold the family home he inherited to help finance a terrorist organization.
Akkouri like several others from the “Soliman Group”, enjoyed general amnesty following the Tunisian Revolution after having served four years in prison, and shortly after resuming his militant activities as a member of Ansar al-Sharia and its armed wing Katibat Uqba Bin Nafaa (KUBN). The Tunisian Ministry of Interior issued a search warrant for Akkouri on November 17, 2014 together with the deceased KUBN leader Khaled Chaïb (Lokhmane Abu Sakhr) and Abdallah Gharbi, Ansar al-Sharia designated a terrorist organization by the Tunisian government more than a year earlier. It was stated in the eulogy that Akkouri had told in correspondence that he was forced to flee to Libya “during the days of Ansar al-Sharia in Tunisia”.
Not much have been heard of Akkouri until the days that followed the arrest of his wife Asma Kaddoussi on November 19 last year in Mechili, Libya, about 75km south of the Cyrenaican city of Derna. It was Beida’s ‘Anti-terrorism and subversion directorate’ affiliated with Khalifah Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) that announced the arrests, also stating that they acted on intelligence received from a hospital in Derna with the information that a foreign woman gave birth to a child with the father of the child not being present. The port city of Derna is controlled by the Shura Council of Mujahideen in Derna (MSCD). The incident caused a media imbroglio since LNA and Libyan medias were convinced that the woman arrested was the wife of Al-Murabitoun leader Mokhtar Belmokhtar, a confusion arising from name similarity. [See MENASTREAM report, Libya: Woman arrested in Mechili is not the wife of Mokhtar Belmokhtar.]
No precision is given in the eulogy regarding the time or circumstances of Akkouri’s death, however, it is believed that he was killed in an airstrike by unknown foreign aircrafts (US or France) in Gardhah al-Shati, north of Sebha in southern Libya. [See MENASTREAM report, Libya: Air raid by unknown aircraft in Gardhah al-Shati.]
Some interesting details provided in Akkouri’s biography is his media activities, and his role as co-founder and supervisor of the pro-AQIM jihadist magazine al-Huda. The first and the only issue of the magazine to ever be published was released on November 1, 2016, and the project seems to have been buried with Akkouri.