Moulessehoul, an officer in the Algerian army, adopted his wife's name as a pseudonym to avoid military censorship. Despite the publication of many successful novels in Algeria, Moulessehoul only revealed his true identity in 2001 after leaving the army and going to France. He left the army as a major in 2000. Anonymity was the only way for him to survive and avoid censorship during the Algerian Civil War. In 2004, Newsweek acclaimed him as "one of the rare writers capable of giving a meaning to the violence in Algeria today."
His novel set in Afghanistan under the Taliban, The Swallows of Kabul, was shortlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award (2006), as was The Attack (2008). L'Attentat won the Prix des libraires in 2006, a prize chosen by about five thousand bookstores in France, Belgium, Switzerland, and Canada.
In an interview with the German radio station SWR1 in 2006, Khadra said “The West interprets the world as it likes. It develops certain theories that fit into its world outlook, but do not always represent the reality. Being a Muslim, I suggest a new perspective on Afghanistan, on religious fanaticism and what I would call religiopathy. My novel The Swallows of Kabul gives readers in the West a chance to understand the core of a problem that they usually only touch on the surface. Because fanaticism is a threat for all, I contribute to the understanding of its causes and backgrounds. Perhaps then it will be possible to find a way to bring it under control.”
Yasmina Khadra became director of the Algerian Cultural Center in Paris in November 2007.
On November 2, 2013 Khadra announced his candidacy for the presidency of Algeria.