AQIM chief Abdelmalek Droukdel, killed by French army in Mali

French soldiers in Gao, Mali, August 1, 2019.
French soldiers in Gao, Mali, August 1, 2019. BENOIT TESSIER / REUTERS

Abdelmalek Droukdel could have perished a hundred times in the Algerian maquis, between the impenetrable forest heights of Akfadou, in Kabylia, where he had established himself almost a decade from the early 2000s, and the mountains of Tebessa, on the Tunisian border. It was there, in Algeria, that, for more than a quarter of a century, he had climbed all the ranks of regional jihadism.

He finally died much further south, in the north of Mali, a country that has since become the main theater of this war he was waging in the name of Al-Qaida. The emir of Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) was killed on Wednesday June 3 by the French armed forces, Armed Minister Florence Parly announced on Friday evening June 5. “A major success”, according to her.

The operation took place in north-eastern Mali, said the general staff of the armies. “This was made from French and American intelligence crossovers Washington has significant aerial surveillance capabilities in the Sahel, ” adds a source.

Read also Abdelmalek Droukdal: the anti-French artificer

Abdelmalek Droukdel was accompanied by a “Small group” men when he was “Neutralized” by French special forces. His body was “Formally identified”, according to Colonel Frédéric Barbry, spokesman for the general staff. ” The action took place north of the Adrar des Ifoghas, 80 km east of Tessalit, and was carried out by an intervention module made up of helicopters and ground troops. “

Born April 20, 1970 in the village of Zayane, about fifty kilometers from Algiers, Abdelmalek Droudkel was an engineering student when Algeria fell into civil war in the early 1990s. Supporter of the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) ), the movement which enters a direct confrontation with the Algerian capacity after the cancellation of the elections of 1992 which it was on the way to win, Droukdel plunges in clandestinity at 23 years.

Symbolic and ideological referent

He then joined the maquis of the Armed Islamic Group (GIA). Artificer, chief of katiba, of region … He gradually climbs all the levels until joining the command council of the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), a movement founded in 1998 on the ashes of the GIA. Which will earn him five death sentences, in absentia, in Algeria.

In the summer of 2004, he assumed command. Weakened in northern Algeria, the GSPC will expand its operations further south, where it attacks Mauritanian army barracks in the summer of 2015. Six months later, it announces its rally to Al-Qaida. He chose a significant war name: Abou Moussab Abd Al-Wadoud, in reference to the leader of Al-Qaida in Iraq, Abou Moussab al-Zarkaoui, who died in 2006. The rally is part of a dynamic which, on the jihadist side, will prove its worth a few years later in the Sahel: the link between armed groups anchored locally with the franchise and the international network of Al-Qaida, a symbolic and ideological referent.

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