Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb Name New Leader


Brutal jihadist insurgency first emerged in the north of Mali in 2012. Authorities in Mali believed that the jihadist group became powerful because of its links to the al-Qaeda terrorist group.  The county has been struggling ever since to contain the jihadists. Due to this, the country’s former colonial power France launched a military operation to drive back the Islamists in 2013.

The militants operating across the Sahel, however, have managed to spread the fighting since 2012. The conflict extended to Central Mali and neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger. Due to this, hundreds of thousands of individuals have ended up fleeing their homes, with thousands ending up dead.

French Airstrikes

Currently, France has more than 5,00 troops deployed in the Sahel region to combat insurgents. Additionally, the United Nations has some 13,000 troops deployed in Mali as part of its peacekeeping mission. Most of their efforts to repress the jihadists remain fruitless because vast swathes of Mali lie outside effective government control.

On October 30, however, the French army carried out a successful airstrike that greatly contributed to repressing jihadists. The attack occurred when a group of more than 50 militants attempted to attack an army position near the borders of Burkina Faso and Niger. One French drone detected a very large motorcycle caravan in the three border areas as they were about to attack.

After the detection of movement in the area, the French-led anti-jihadist Operation Barkhane launched an offensive. Some jihadists realized their position had been discovered and tried to escape surveillance by taking cover under trees.  The French forces sent two Mirage fighter jets and a drone to launch missiles to prevent their escape.

The airstrike resulted in the neutralization of most of the terrorists in the three border areas. Also, around 30 motorcycles belonging to the militants were destroyed. The French military spokesman Colonel Fredric Barbry reported they had seized weapons, explosives, and suicide vests found. He further stated that four terrorists had been captured during the operation.

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM)

The Colonel said the airstrikes marked a significant blow to the Ansarul Islam group linked to the Al-Qaeda via the GSIM alliance led by Iyad Ag Ghaly. Ghaly emerged as a top jihadist leader in the Sahel when the Qaeda commander Abdelmalek Droukdel died. In June this year, French forces killed Abdelmalek in an attack they had launched in Mali.

Abdemalek Droukdel headed Al Qaeda’s North African branch (AQIM). Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM0 emerged from a group started in late 1990 by radical Algerian Islamists. In  2007 the Islamists pledged their allegiance to Osama Bin Laden’s Al Qaeda network, becoming affiliated with the group. This week AQIM for the first displayed the body of their former leader in a video they made. The French army killed Abdemalek in Mali after hunting him for more than seven years in the Sahel region.

Appointment of Abu Ubaida Yusuf al-Annabi

The U.S.- based SITE, an intelligence group that monitors jihadist websites, said AQIM appointed a new leader following the death of Droukdel. The group members chose another Algerian sheik Mujahid Yazid Mubarak also known as Abu Ubaida Yusuf al-Annabi, as successor. Al-Annabi has been on the American international terrorist blacklist since September 2015. He regularly appeared in AQIM’s propaganda videos, and in 2013 he demanded that Muslims retaliate against France’s intervention in Mali.

In their video, AQIM also confirmed the death of Swiss Beatrice Stockly, who was kidnapped from the Malian city of Timbuktu in January while working as a missionary. The group blamed her death on the attempt by the French troops to free her.



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