Known Also As: Mohamed Abbatay; Abd al-Rahman al-Maghrebi; Abdul Rahman al-Maghrebi; Muhammad Abaytah;
DOB: July 1, 1970;
Place of birth: Marrakech, Morocco;
Muhammad Abbatay, better known as Abd al-Rahman al-Maghrebi, is Moroccan national and U.S.-designated leader for al-Qaeda. Al-Maghrebi allegedly is an Iran-based key leader, and the longtime director of al-Sahab, al-Qaeda’s media arm. The U.S. Treasury and U.S. Department of State designated al-Maghrebi as a Specially Designated National (SDN) and a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) on January 12, 2021.
The son-in-law of al-Qaeda co-founder, Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Maghrebi allegedly left Morocco in 1996 to study software programming in Cologne, Germany. A few years later, in 1999, al-Maghrebi left Germany for Afghanistan to train at the al-Faruq camp near Kandahar before being pulled from training by Khalid Sheikh Muhammad—the head of both al-Qaeda’s External Operations and Media Committee—and was reassigned to work for al-Qaeda’s Media Committee.
Given al-Maghrebi’s software expertise and computer skills, al-Maghrebi quickly became an asset for the group’s Media Committee and eventually took on the role as director of al-Sahab—al-Qaeda’s media arm. Allegedly, after the fall of Afghanistan in 2001, al-Maghrebi fled to Iran but reportedly relocated to Pakistan in 2003.
According to documents recovered from the 2011 military operation against Osama bin Laden, al-Maghrebi has been a rising star in al-Qaeda for many years. In 2012, al-Maghrebi began serving as al-Qaeda’s general manager in Afghanistan and Pakistan, before relocating to Iran due to years of international counterterrorism pressure. While in Iran, al-Maghrebi became head of al-Qaeda’s External Communications Office where he supervised and coordinated al-Qaeda’s and al-Qaeda’s activities worldwide.
On January 12, 2021, the U.S. Department of State designated al-Maghrebi as an SDGT.* The same day, the U.S. Department of the Treasury sanction-designated al-Maghrebi as an SDN.* Additionally, the State Department’s Rewards for Justice program announced a reward for up to $7 million for information regarding al-Maghrebi’s location.
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