Algeria al-Qaeda chief Droukdel sentenced in absentia

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Abdelmalek DroukdelImage source, AFP
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Abdelmalek Droukdel is thought to have brought suicide bombing to Algeria

The leader of al Qaeda's Algerian offshoot has been sentenced to death in his absence.

Abdelmalek Droukdel, who uses the alias Abou Mossab Abdelwadoud, is the head of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Magreb.

A court in Algiers convicted him and eight co-defendants of murder, membership of a terrorist organisation and attacks using explosives.

He is thought to have been responsible for introducing suicide bombings to Algeria.

He was among a total of 18 accused to face charges relating to three bomb attacks in the capital Algiers in April 2007 which killed 22 people and wounded more than 200 others.

Droukel is 41 and was trained as an engineer.

He fought in Afghanistan, and is thought to regard the former leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, as his inspiration.

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Magreb operates in Algeria, Mali and Mauritania, and its stated goal is a unified Islamic state in the region.

On Monday another court, in the eastern Algerian city of Bouira, sentenced Droukdel and three others to death in absentia after it found them guilty of terrorism, murder and carrying out massacres.