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Κυριακή, 24 Οκτωβρίου, 2021

Islamic State: France says it has killed Adnan Abu Walid al Sahrawi, the terror group’s leader in the Greater Sahara |

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An Islamic State leader in the Sahara has been killed by the French military.

President Emmanuel Macron said Adnan Abu Walid al Sahrawi’s death was “a major success”.

Al Sahrawi was the leader of IS in the Greater Sahara, and had previously claimed to be behind terror attacks in the region.

La Nation pense ce soir à tous ses héros morts pour la France au Sahel dans les opérations Serval et Barkhane, aux familles endeuillées, à tous ses blessés. Leur sacrifice n’est pas vain. Avec nos partenaires africains, européens et américains, nous poursuivrons ce combat.

— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) September 15, 2021

Florence Parly, the French armed forces minister, said that al Sahrawi was killed in Mali after being struck by a drone while he was riding a bike in mid-August.

It comes following the recent killing of Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau, and a number of other strikes on the IS leadership.

Bernard Ernie, the head of France’s external intelligence service, said they would increase their focus on targeting Iyad Ag Ghaly, the head of al Qaeda in north Africa.

Mr Macron said in a post on Twitter: “The nation is thinking tonight of all its heroes who died for France in the Sahel in the Serval and Barkhane operations, of the bereaved families, of all of its wounded.

“Their sacrifice is not in vain.

“With our African, European and American partners, we will continue this fight.”

France has been operating in the Sahel – the strip of Africa below the Sahara running east to west – since 2013.

It is particularly active in the areas in which it was a colonial power, and has around 5,000 people in the region.

The UK has proed support to the French-led operation – including 300 troops being sent to Mali at the end of last year.

There were concerns the withdrawal of Western powers from Afghanistan may lead to an emboldening of Islamists in Africa.

Image:
The United States had previously offered a reward for information on al Sahrawi. Pic: AP

Al Sahrawi said he was behind a terror attack in 2017 in Niger that killed four US military members and four Niger service personnel.

France said that, in August 2020, al Sahrawi ordered the execution of six French charity workers and their Nigerien driver.

It is estimated that al Sahrawi’s militia is responsible for killing up to 3,000 people – most of whom were Muslims.

The US had offered a reward of up to $5m (£3.6m) for information leading to his location.

Al Sahrawi was born in the disputed Western Sahara region, and later joined the Polisario Front before travelling to Algeria and Mali.

He then joined a group called MUJAO, which worked for the local al Qaeda affiliate.

In 2015, Al Sahrawi pledged allegiance to IS in Iraq and Syria.

France said his group still has hundreds of fighters, but that it will struggle to replace its former head.

“We have no information on a successor at this stage, but it probably won’t be easy to find a leader who has the same weighting than the one who was killed,” Ms Parly said.

Alexandre Raymakers, senior Africa analyst at risk intelligence company Verisk Maplecroft, said: “The death of al Sahrawi will likely disrupt ISGS operations in the short-term, but it is unlikely to permanently cripple the extremist group.”

Image:
The UK has proed assistance – including Chinook helicopters – to the French-led mission in the area. Pic: Ministry of Defence

The death comes as Salah Abdeslam goes on trial in France over the 2015 Paris terror attacks.

He said the killings were “nothing personal” and were carried out in response to French airstrikes in Syria and Iraq.

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