The commander of the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara was killed during a French military operation, President Emmanuel Macron said in a tweet. The jihadist cell was active in the Mali-Niger border region in the African Sahel.
“Adnan Abu Walid al-Sahrawi, leader of the terrorist group Islamic State in the Greater Sahara, has been neutralized by French forces. This is another major success in our fight against terrorist groups in the Sahel ”, Macron tweeted in the early hours of Thursday morning, but gave no details of the operation.
Al-Sahrawi declared allegiance to the Islamic State in 2015, and his group reportedly carried out several attacks on local and foreign troops in the Sahel region, including an ambush in 2017 against Nigerian and American soldiers outside the village. of Tongo Tongo in Niger. The Al-Sahrawi group claimed responsibility several months after the attack – which killed five Nigerians and four Americans – and Washington then paid a bounty of $ 5 million to obtain information about the commander’s fate.
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He was added to the United Nations terrorism list in 2018 for association with Islamic State and al Qaeda, and is also accused of being involved in kidnappings of foreigners, including Kenneth Elliot, an Australian citizen.
Before proclaiming his loyalty to ISIS, al-Sahraoui served as spokesperson for the Movement for Unification and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), an al-Qaeda dissident group in the Islamic Maghreb, a subsidiary based in North African countries, according to the UN.
French forces have integrated local troops for its massive Operation Barkhane, a multinational counterterrorism mission launched in 2014 and active in several former French colonies in the Sahel region, notably in Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger. Barkhane followed Operation Serval in 2013, during which French forces helped recapture parts of northern Mali from Islamist groups. The radical and ongoing mission is also backed by American and British forces – although the American involvement became more controversial when it was revealed that American troops had trained Colonel Assimi Goita, a Malian military commander who led two separate coup attempts between August 2020 and May 2021..
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