More than half of the global military expenditure is spent on fighting terrorists or solving other terror-related activities. The century’s longest and most expensive terrorist manhunts end in the death of many civilians and servicemen, and there are other terrorists still at large that feast on fear and death of innocent people. The 21st century came with smarter, more dangerous and sophisticated terrorists with some continuing to avoid the authorities from the 20th century. Every day these men walk free is a day a school, church or city block might blow up making them the most dangerous men in the world. The trail of bodies their actions leave behind also hurts the world, and the pain is worse when justice is not served.
1. Omar Al Bashir
Osama Bin Laden enjoyed Omar Al Bashir‘s protection in the 90s making the US and the west very angry. He also trained the Lord’s Resistance Army which caused so much death in Uganda, South Sudan, Congo and the Central African Republic making Africa very angry. Al Bashir’s crimes against his own people with the aim of maintaining power for the Islamic communities in the region is the main reason for his crimes. He is a global terrorist with so much power and diplomatic protection that his arrest cannot be carried out by many countries. The president of Sudan is the only head of state wanted by the ICC for genocide and crimes against humanity.
Al Bashir was put on the list of international terrorists in 1993 by the US. He was, however, never arrested, he instead rose to power in Sudan after a coup and has never lost an election since then. Omar Al Bashir is the subject of 2 ICC arrest warrants issued since 2009 with counts of mass murder in Darfur. He instigated the Janjaweed militia to act as his unofficial hand for exterminating opposition to his rule and has since wiped out entire communities in the region. He continues to evade arrest and enjoy diplomatic immunity in many countries in Africa.
2. Mokhtar Belmokhtar
The one-eyed uncatchable Islamist of North Africa has been the target of more than 20 countries for his role in Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. Apart from being a terrorist, Mokhtar Belmokhtar is a smuggler dealing in everything that can be sold including diamonds and people. Belmokhtar died and resurfaced so many times in the news until he was named the invincible. The continued presence of his name on the target lists of the US and French intelligence became so shameful especially in 2016 after he resurfaced after a deadly strike in which the US declared him dead.
His crimes trace back to his role in Al Qaeda, but he managed to outlive most of his fellow Islamists. He fought with Al Qaeda before coming home to join the Armed Islamic Group of Algeria which is responsible for mass killings in the country including extermination of whole towns. He has stayed undead by moving from place to place in the remote areas of Algeria and keeping a low profile. He was declared dead about four times from 2006 to 2016, but his followers say he is alive. He was responsible for the kidnapping of 800 hostages at a BP plant in Algeria killing 39 people including Britons and Americans.
3. Ibrahim Al Asiri
Asiri rose to the rank of the most dangerous bomb maker on the planet within a short time. He invented a smart way of making explosives using materials that bypass metal detectors. After plotting to down a plane in Detroit on Christmas in 2009, Ibrahim Al Asiri became the subject of a massive manhunt and was declared dead every year since 2010 only to show up in other attacks. He moved around from place to place to avoid arrest and finally found refuge in Yemen with the AQAP front of Al Qaeda. He proved his faith to the course by implanting a bomb in his brother’s rectum to assassinate the Saudi foreign minister.
He even loaded printers and cartridges with explosives and tried to get them on a US-bound plane. With such a relentless dedication to violent Jihad, Ibrahim Asiri became the primary target of US and Saudi airstrikes. He managed to run from the authorities for over a decade, and his death has never been physically confirmed.
4. Joseph Kony
Joseph Kony is the leader of the infamous Lord’s resistance army that killed more than 100,000 people and abducted thousands of girls and women turning them into sex slaves. His main aim of establishing a state that obeys the ten commandments and Acholi traditions led to so much bloodshed that got him his name “The Butcher.” While formerly known as a prophet by his clansmen in the Ugandan Acholi Community, Joseph Kony became one of the evilest men in the world. Initially, he claimed to be struggling for the rights of the Acholi people who were being oppressed by the Museveni regime in the 80s. His methods, however, got so violent that he lost love among his people.
Kony is famous for kidnapping young boys and recruiting them to his ruthless army which has terrorized Uganda, Sudan, CAR, and DR Congo for over 30 years. The Lord’s resistance army has since taken a big hit from the local military operations aided by US forces. Accused of crimes against humanity by the UN and the US, Kony still maintains his name on the terrorist watch list, but he continued to run free decades into the search.
5. Abubakar Shekau
This is the infamous Boko Haram leader with nine lives. This man survived one of the largest antiterrorist operations in African history continuing to mock Cameroonian, Chad, and Nigerian military operations. Abubakar Shekau turned Boko Haram into Africa’s largest terrorist group that almost crippled the Nigerian law enforcement with suicide bombings, mass killings, and kidnappings.
He was declared dead more than six times coming out every time to mock authorities in videos which made the world angrier. His abduction of 200 Chibok school girls brought global shame to the Nigerian Government. His Elusive nature is highly associated with the woes of former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan including losing a second term election to Mohammad Buhari. The US put a $7 million on his head but catching him remained a dream for law enforcement years into the operation.
6. Dawood Ibrahim
Dabbed the world’s richest terrorist, Dawood Ibrahim made the Indian Government the main target of his attacks. He was already the boss of all of Mumbai’s organized crime groups when destabilizing the Indian government became his second objective. Dawood is subject to India’s most extended terrorist hunt for his involvement in many terrorist acts against the Indian people including the 1993 Mumbai Bombings. To stay on the run with a $25 million on your head, you need a solid inner circle, and Dawood seems to have one of the world’s best.
He is accused of smuggling drugs and committing atrocities through “D Company,” his organized crime syndicate, which has close ties to Al Qaeda and other large terrorist groups. His close relationship with Bin Laden in the 90s and other terrorists in India made him an enemy of the world forcing him to flee to Karachi Pakistan where he is believed to enjoy protection. The Pakistani government denied ties with him, but D Company continues to commit atrocities in 25 countries around the world including supplying massive quantities of drugs across Europe.
7. Ayman Al-Zawahiri
His Popularity may not compare to his predecessor, but Ayman Al-Zawahiri is just as elusive as any other major terrorist. As the leader of Al Qaeda, Ayman had large shoes to wear after Bin Laden’s death. He ascended to leadership in troubled times for Al Qaeda. Western forces had taken charge of most Al Qaeda strongholds, and the best he could do was gather the pieces, but he has kept the terrorist organization Alive while eluding one of the greatest manhunts in history.
He has a $25 million reward on his head by the US Department of state for his role in the US embassy bombings in Nairobi and Dar Salaam. He worked side by side with Bin Laden in organizing the 911 attacks on the US, but despite his leader’s arrest, he has remained at large outliving most upcoming terrorists. He maintains symbolic power that allows him to start violent fights by Al Qaeda believers including the Muslim Brotherhood all over the world. He, however, developed a sour relationship with most terrorist leaders.
8. Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi
His real name is Ibrahim Awwad Ibrahim Al-Badri, and he is probably the most educated man ever to lead an Islamist terrorist group in Syria. With his Ph.D. in Islamic studies and descent from a tribe believed to share blood ties with Prophet Mohammed, he had all it took to lead a robust terrorist cell. He was not just Ruthless to “unbelievers,” he would wipe out anyone that stopped the advance of ISIS including the Al Nusra front, his creation. He was expelled from Al Qaeda for disobeying Ayman Al-Zawahiri but went on to form the most ruthless terrorist organization in middle eastern history.
His power lay in numbers as ISIS recruited thousands of foreign fighters that went ahead to fight Bashar Al Assad trying to take control of Syria. After setting up headquarters in Mosul, the second largest city in the country, he enjoyed the protection of more than 100,000 fighters and a human shield of innocent civilians. The US put a $25 million on his head; his organization took a big hit from Russian, Us, Syrian, Israeli and Iraq military forces but he was not arrested.
9. Félicien Kabuga
He committed most of his crimes in the 20th century, but Kabuga is still the most elusive terrorist and criminal in Africa decades after the genocide. Time is supposed to heal wounds, but this man’s name always makes mouths sour even as the victims of his sins try to move on. He is the main face behind the Rwanda Genocide in 1994 after importing 500,000 machetes arming the Hutus that were used to butcher nearly 1000,000 people.
Despite the global pain caused by his action, this man has eluded authorities by employing much security including police officers. He was named as the most wanted terrorist in the Justice for Rwanda operation by the US State Department which put a $5 million bounty on his head. He has eluded authorities by using his financial power to bribe authorities and secure protection in Kenya, Congo and other countries. He was indicted for crimes against humanity, conspiracy to commit genocide among other crimes at the ICC but has continued to evade arrest.
10. Osama Bin Laden
Barack Obama and Osama Bin Laden met only once, on CIA cameras in the final assault seen as the US’s greatest victory in the war on terror. Bin Laden is still viewed as the greatest martyr by Islamists in Extreme Jihadi history and the worst terrorist that the USA and the west ever encountered. As the supreme leader of Al Qaeda, Bin Laden carried out the worst terrorist attack in US history on Sep 11, 2001, among other attacks that happened during his leadership. He eluded authorities through 3 different regimes in the USA before US marines caught up with him in Islamabad in 2011.
He remained on the FBI most wanted list for ten years. He was subject to the largest ever manhunt that was funded by $1.45 trillion by the US government. His hiding places were kept secret, bounties on his head bounced in the government’s face one after another. He was not a terrorist to many in the Arab world, many considered him a hero and would protect him with their lives making him the most elusive terrorist in the 21st century.