The al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) group has chosen a new leader to replace Abdelmalek Droukdel, who was killed in June by French forces, the SITE monitoring group reported.
Algerian Abu Obaida Yusuf al-Annabi, head of AQIM’s “Council of Dignitaries”, was named as Droukdel’s successor, SITE said. AQIM displayed the body of its former leader for the first time in a video, it added on Saturday.
Al-Annabi has been on the US’s “international terrorist” blacklist since September 2015, according to the Counter Extremism Project. He has regularly appeared in the group’s propaganda videos, and in 2013 demanded that Muslims retaliate against France’s intervention in Mali.
AQIM also confirmed the death of Swiss national Beatrice Stoeckli, who was abducted in Timbuktu while working as a missionary in 2016. It blamed her death on an attempt by “French crusaders” to free her.
AQIM emerged from a group started in the late 1990s by Algerian fighters who, in 2007, pledged allegiance to Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda network.
The group has claimed responsibility for numerous attacks on troops and civilians across the Sahel region, including a 2016 attack on an upmarket hotel and restaurant in Burkina Faso that killed 30 people, mainly Westerners. France has more than 5,000 troops deployed in its “anti-jihadist” Barkhane force in the Sahel.