France announced earlier this month that its armed forces had killed Abdelmalek Droukdel, the emir of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) during a June 3 military operation in northern Mali. The operation was carried out by French troops with the help of intelligence and surveillance aircraft provided by the United States.
“On June 3, French army forces with the support of their local partners, killed al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb’s emir, Abdelmalek Droukdel, and several of his closest collaborators, during an operation in northern Mali,” French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly wrote on Twitter.
Le 3 juin, les forces armées françaises, avec le soutien de leurs partenaires, ont neutralisé l’émir Al-Qaida au Maghreb islamique (AQMI), Abdelmalek Droukdal et plusieurs de ses proches collaborateurs, lors d’une opération dans le nord du Mali.
— Florence Parly (@florence_parly) June 5, 2020
France says its army killed the leader of al-Qaeda in North Africa, Abdelmalek Droukdel pic.twitter.com/hEEflATjKz
— Reuters (@Reuters) June 6, 2020
Droukdel was among North Africa’s most experienced militants and was one of those who took part in the Islamist militant takeover of northern Mali before a French military intervention in 2013 drove them back and scattered fighters across the Sahel region.
On numerous occasions over the past ten years, rumours had circulated that he was dead. They were wrong.
But this time, the journey of 50-year-old Abdelmalek Droukdel found its epilogue in northeastern Mali, in Talhandak, about 80 kilometres east of Tessalit and a stone’s throw from the border with Algeria.
Parly said that French forces, which number about 5,200 in the region, had also on May 19 captured Mohamed el Mrabat, a fighter she identified as a veteran militant in the region and member of Islamic State in the Greater Sahara.
“Our forces, in cooperation with their local partners … will continue to track these (people) down without respite,” Parly said.
Three jihadist leaders now loom large over the central Sahel: Iyad Ag Ghaly and Amadou Koufa – who are both linked to al Qaeda – and Adnan Abou Walid Sahraoui, who leads the region’s Islamic State group franchise.
al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) media chief Abd al-Ilah Ahmad releases video eulogy for slain AQIM emir Abdelmalek Droukdel in Mali, therefore confirming his death. #Africa https://t.co/5U1ZkzVOxE pic.twitter.com/aQQGVEh9Xp
— FJ (@Natsecjeff) June 18, 2020