Al-Qaeda terror chief in Africa eliminated in Mali after a 7-year manhunt

The Muslim terrorist leader of al-Qaeda’s North Africa affiliated has been eliminated in a French counter-terrorism operation in northern Mali this week, following a US intelligence tip-off.

France’s Defense Minister Florence Parly said that Abdelmalek Droukdel, the leader of the al-Qaeda terror group in the Islamic Maghreb region, was eliminated near the Algerian border. The group has used bases in the region to carry out terror attacks and abductions in the sub-Saharan Sahel zone.

“On June 3, the French armed forces, with the support of their partners, neutralized the emir al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Abdelmalek Droukdel and several of his close collaborators, during an operation in northern Mali,” she wrote on Twitter.

A French general involved in the operation said: ‘This one was made from crossings of French and American intelligence – Washington has important aerial surveillance means in the Sahel.’

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) emerged from a group started in the late 1990s by Algerian Muslim terrorists, who in 2007 pledged allegiance to Osama Bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda terror group.

Droukdel was in charge of all affiliates in north Africa and also commanded al-Qaeda’s Sahel affiliate, Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM).

He was an explosives expert and manufactured bombs that killed hundreds of civilians in terror attacks.

Under his leadership, AQIM carried out numerous massacres, including a 2016 assault on a hotel in the Burkina Faso capital Ouagadougou that left 30 dead and 150 injured.

In 2012, the Muslim terrorist was sentenced to death by a court in Algeria after being convicted in absentia of murder, membership of a terrorist organization and attacks using explosives.

The charges related to three bomb attacks in the capital Algiers in April 2007 which killed 22 people and wounded more than 200 others.

The elimination of Droukdel could leave AQIM in disarray, French military sources suggested.