The Associated Press recently got its hands on a fascinating and at turns hilarious letter from Al Qaeda’s Shura (leadership) Council to one Mokhtar Belmokhtar (MBM), a disgruntled Assistant Regional Manager of Al Qaeda in the Maghreb (AQIM). Belmokhtar, who goes by the nom de guerre Khaled Abu Abbas and who lost an eye while mishandling explosives in his rough and rowdy jihadist youth, is a mass murderer who orchestrated an attack on BP oil fields in Algeria, in which 39 hostages died. He is also, based on the letter, a real insubordinate prig. Below are highlights from the letter.
AWOL in Algeria
Hard to believe that a man who wants to reestablish an ultra-hierarchical Islamofascist caliphate by the sword would have trouble with authority, but apparently MBM very much does. “[MBM] is not willing to follow anyone,” the brass complain in the letter, which enumerates 30 separate complaints against MBM. “He is satisfied only when followed and obeyed.” Of one operation in particular, the Shura say that MBM disobeyed clear orders. “Rather than walking alongside us in the plan we outlined, he managed the case however he liked.”
MBM “remained an obstacle blocking the efforts” of his AQIM supervisors to unite the different terror brigades in the region. He frequently broke the chain of command to complain directly to Afghanistan/Pakistan. He didn’t answer phone calls or e-mails, even as he boasted of his deeds to jihadist web groups. He refused to attend a meeting with superiors, calling it “useless,” and ignored emissaries and reinforcements sent to him from central command. And so on.
For his part, Belmokhtar complains that he is being underutilized, and that his brigade “got bored with” the “routine . . . abductions” with which they were tasked. And he blamed any performance issues on the deficiencies of the North African “emirs” to whom he was supposed to report. But the Shura Council wasn’t buying it.
“Why do the successive emirs of the region only have difficulties with you?” They asked sarcastically. “You in particular every time. Or are all of them wrong and brother Khaled is right?”
Al-Qaeda are skinflints
The hits keep coming. Second to his insubordination, the Shura Council’s main complaint about MBM is his handling of finances. The letter criticizes MBM for his poor accounting, asking pointedly, “How many administrative and financial reports have you sent up to your Emirate?” They also ding him for failing to extract a large enough ransom payment for a kidnapped Canadian diplomat. “The unilateral behavior along the lines of our brother Abu Abbas . . . produced a blatant inadequacy: trading the weightiest case (Canadian diplomats!!) for the most meager price (700,000 euros)!!”
Nor, it seems, did MBM do much with the resources he did have. Despite being given “a considerable amount of money to buy military materiel,” the letter says, “the practical reality testifies to the fact that [MBM] did not contribute to increasing weapons purchases, despite the historical and social weight he has in the region enabling him to play an important role in this field.”
“To the contrary, we found the other emirs’ contributions to be much more effective and greater in size than Khaled’s, which was negligible.”