- The Washington Times - Friday, March 14, 2014

French air strikes in the mountains of northern Mali have killed a prominent Jihadist leader with a $3 million U.S. government bounty on his head.

U.S. authorities say that Oumar Ould Hamaha, commonly known as “Red Beard” for his henna-dyed facial hair, was a member of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and spokesman for its offshoot, the Movement for Unity and Johad in the Islamic Maghreb.

He was responsible for the kidnappings of foreigners for ransom, including a Canadian diplomat in Niger in December 2008, according to the U.S. bounty.

A Malian military source told the Reuters news agency that Mr. Hamaha was reported killed in the Tigharaghar mountains in northeastern Mali near the town of Kidal.

“This is what intelligence services told us yesterday. He was killed by French air strikes in the Tigharghar,” the source said.

Reuters reported Friday that French forces have led military offensives in the region since January 2013, breaking up the al Qaeda-linked militants in northern Mali. However, small pockets of Islamists have broken off and continue to operate in hiding.

The Movement for Unity and Johad in the Islamic Maghreb imposes strict Sharia law in the northern Africa region, where fighters cut the hands off thieves and flog women for dressing immodestly.

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