On June 11, the French military for the first time provided details on the special operation, in which Abdelmalek Droukdel, the founder and leader of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), was eliminated.
The notorious terrorist was located in a desert region near the northeastern Malian town of Tessalit, a few kilometers away from Algeria’s border.
Fifteen special forces, who were dropped by two transport helicopters, led the operation. A Tiger combat helicopter, a Gazelle multipurpose helicopter and a drone also supported the effort.
Droukdel and some of his aides were killed. Only one individual was captured by French Special Forces, which handed him to Malian authorities after a brief interrogation. French troops also seized phones, cards and computers, which were in Droukdel’s SUV.
🔸 @EtatMajorFR publie des images de l’opération qui a mené à la mort d’Abdelmalek Droukdel, ex-émir d’AQMI. L’opération a été menée lorsqu’il était en bivouac avec un véhicule dans le Nord Mali.
[🔎 Présence d’un drone Reaper mais aucune frappe aérienne n’a été lancée.] pic.twitter.com/MIISqYi8dc
— (Little) Think Tank (@L_ThinkTank) June 11, 2020
50-year old Droukdel was one of the leaders of the militant takeover of northern Mali in 2013, which led to a French military intervention.
Droukdel is believed to be the mastermind behind the merge between the Group for Preaching and Combat with al-Qaeda in 2006. A merge that gave birth to AQIM as it is known today.
The elimination of Droukdel was one of the greatest successes of France’s intervention in Mali, which faced serious challenged in the last two years.