France announced on June 5 that its Armed Forces killed Abdelmalek Droukdel, founder and leader of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in a special operation in Mali.
“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.
Parly didn’t provide any additional information about the special operation in which Droukdel, an Algerian national, was killed.
After returning from Afghanistan, where he participated in the conflict, Droukdel joined the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC).
Droukdel was a regional commander in the GSPC for several years. In 2004, he became the group’s leader following the death of Nabil Sahraoui. His mentor was Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi.
In 2006, the GSPC merged with al-Qaeda. Later, the group changed its name to the al-Qaeda Organization in the Islamic Maghreb. Droukdel reportedly played a significant role in this merger.
Droukdel was one of the leaders of the militant takeover of northern Mali, which led to a French military intervention in 2013.
The killing of Droukdel is not only a major blow to al-Qaeda, but also to all terrorist groups active in Mali. The operation will solidify France’s positions in the country.