Antar Zouabri

individual

Overview

  • Leader of the Armed Islamic Group, an Algerian terrorist group that murdered tens of thousands
  • Was killed in a 2002 gun battle

Antar Zouabri was born in 1970 in the Mitidja, the fertile plain south of Algiers. His relatives supported the pro-sharia Islamic Salvation Front, whose 1991 election victory was aborted by the Algerian army in January 1992. Zouabri deserted from the Algerian army in ’92 as well, and his brother Ali was killed the following year.

From July 1996 to February 2002, Zouabri served as the leader of the Algeria-based Armed Islamic Group (GIA). He viewed the overwhelming majority of his countrymen — who did not support the GIA — as “infidels” who were, therefore, legitimate targets for murder. Under Zouabri’s stewardship, the GIA was responsible for tens of thousands of killings. Zouabri also encouraged GIA soldiers to kidnap thousands of girls for use as sex slaves.

Zouabri evaded police and army manhunts for years by traveling through rugged mountains and thick forests, often accompanied by hundreds of fellow rebels. But on February 9, 2002, he was killed by Algerian troops in a gunfight in his hometown of Boufarik, approximately 35 kilometers south of Algiers.

Further Reading: “Algeria Puts Dead Militant on Show” (BBC News, 2-10-2002); “Photo Confirms Death of Feared Algerian Islamist in Gun-Fight” (Irish Times, 2-11-2002); Historical Dictionary of Terrorism (Third Edition, by Stephen Sloan & Sean K. Anderson, 2009, page 46).

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