ISLAMABAD: A Belgian-Tunisian al Qaeda recruiter who allegedly mentored an extremist who shot dead seven people in France this year has been killed in Pakistan, according to the US monitoring service SITE.
SITE said a post on an extremist web forum on Monday announced the death of Moez Garsalloui, who had claimed responsibility for one of the attacks carried out by Mohamed Merah in the southern French city of Toulouse in March.
Garsalloui was a jihadist recruiter and propagandist formerly based in Belgium and Switzerland, SITE said, who remained focused on signing up militants to attack targets in Europe even after moving to the battlefields and training camps of Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The post announcing Garsalloui’s death said he was killed in a “raid”, SITE said without elaborating, having previously escaped bombings in Miranshah, the main town in the North Waziristan district of Pakistan’s lawless tribal areas.
No details of the raid were given but the jihadi website announcement appeared a few days after two US drone strikes in North Waziristan killed 23 people, according to Pakistani security sources.
The death notice named Garsalloui as the leader of “Jund al-Khilafah”, or Army of the Caliph, a militant unit that claimed responsibility for Merah’s attack outside a Jewish school on March 19.
A forum post from one of Garsalloui’s accounts in April described meeting Merah in Pakistan and mentoring him, SITE said, helping him as he struggled to make himself understood to other fighters in Arabic.
Garasalloui and his wife, Belgian-Moroccan Malika el Aroud, were convicted by a Swiss court in June 2007 for running websites that supported terrorism.
He was jailed for three weeks and then moved to Belgium, where he and his wife were accused of recruiting jihadists to fight in Afghanistan.
He left Europe in late 2007 and was later identified as a link between al Qaeda leaders and a Belgian network that was disrupted by raids in December 2008, accused of planning an imminent attack.