The French military and allied forces in Mali killed the longtime leader of al-Qaeda’s North African arm, who commanded jihadists in his native Algeria and then spread their movement across Africa’s Sahel region, France’s defence minister said Friday.
Abdelmalek Droukdel, known as the emir of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, was killed in an operation Wednesday in northern Mali along with several people in his entourage, Defence Miniser Florence Parly tweeted.
Droukdel fought in Algeria’s civil war in the 1990s and allied the Algerian jihadist group GSPC with al-Qaeda in 2006. Under his leadership, AQIM claimed responsibility for several deadly attacks across Algeria.
Parly identified him as a member of al-Qaeda’s “management committee.” Related anti-terrorist operations in the region also led to the arrest May 19 of a major figure in the Islamic State in the Grand Sahara, Mohamed el Mrabat, she said.
She said the operations dealt a “severe blow” to terrorist groups in the region that have been operating for years despite the presence of thousands of French, U.N. and other African troops.