North Africa’s al-Qaeda names new leader as Takfiris expand foothold
An affiliate of the al-Qaeda terrorist group in North Africa has appointed a new leader after confirming the death of its former leader killed in June, as Takfiri groups continue to spread their violent ideology in the continent, particularly in the Sahel region.
The US-based SITE Intelligence Group, which claims to monitor Takfiri groups online, announced that al-Qaeda in Maghreb (AQIM) had for the first time displayed in a video the dead body of its former leader, Abdelmalek Droukdel, who was killed by the French military in June.
France’s special forces killed Droukdel, along with several members of his inner circle, in Mali after hunting him for more than seven years in the Sahel region.
Droukdel, who was a 50-year-old Algerian national, led the AQIM extremist group and was reportedly in charge of all the affiliates of the al-Qaeda terrorist group in North Africa.
The SITE Intelligence Group also said on Saturday that AQIM had chosen another Algerian, Sheikh Mujahid Yazid Mubarak known as Abu Ubaida Yusuf al-Annabi, as Droukdel’s successor.
The Takfiri group, which reportedly pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda in 2006, was responsible for deadly terrorist operations in Algeria, Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Tunisia, and Libya. The AQIM financed military operations by kidnapping foreigners and extracting ransoms from their governments.
Meanwhile, the terrorist outfit confirmed on Saturday the death of Swiss missionary Beatrice Stockly, who was kidnapped from the Malian city of Timbuktu in January 2016.
The Sahel, a semi-arid stretch of land south of the Sahara desert, has been in turmoil since 2012, when a number of armed separatist groups started targeting the local population in Mali.
Terrorist groups, linked to al-Qaeda and Daesh, have strengthened their foothold across the Sahel region, making large swathes of territory ungovernable and stoking local ethnic violence, especially in Mali and Burkina Faso.