Early on September 16, France’s President Emmanuel Macron announced that French troops had killed Adnan Abu Walid al-Sahrawi leader of ISIS in the Greater Sahara (IS-GS).
“This is another major success in our fight against terrorist groups in the Sahel,” Macron said on Twitter. “With our African, European and American partners, we will continue this fight.”
IS-GS has been active across large swathes of the Sahel region, especially the tri-border region between Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso known as Liptako-Gourma.
Al-Sahrawi was killed in the region, specifically in a forest located to the south of the Mali’s In-Delimane. According to the French military, an airstrike that was carried out between August 20 and 22 claimed the leader’s life.
The leader, whose real name is Lehbib Ould Ali Ould Said Ould Yumani, was born in Morocco on 16 February 1973. Before joining IS-GS, he was a member of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and also co-led Mujao, a Malian radical group.
Al-Sahrawi was wanted by the US over his involvement in an attack in Niger that killed four American Special Forces and four Nigerien troops on 4 October 2017. IS-GS leader was involved in several other crimes. On 9 August 2020 in Niger, he personally ordered the killing of six French aid workers and their Nigerien guides and drivers.
The French military has killed several high-ranking leaders of IS-GS since the start of its military intervention in Mali in 2013.
The killing of al-Sahrawi is a significant achievement for the French military. However, the death of the terrorists leader will not likely effect IS-GS operations in Liptako-Gourma.
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