Al-Qaeda names new North Africa leader, confirms death of Swiss abducted in Timbuktu

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Al-Qaeda’s North Africa branch (AQMI) has chosen a new leader to replace Abdelmalek Droukdel, who was killed in June by French forces, the SITE monitoring group reported Saturday.

Algerian Abu Obaida Yusuf al-Annabi, the head of al-Qaeda’s North Africa’s “Council of Dignitaries,” was named as Droukdel’s successor, SITE said.

Al-Annabi has been on the American “international terrorist” blacklist since September 2015, according to the Counter Extremism Project.

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He has regularly appeared in the group’s propaganda videos, and in 2013 famously 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.

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French army kills al-Qaeda North Africa chief Abdelmalek Droukdel in Mali

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Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) emerged from a group started in the late 1990s by radical Algerian Islamists, 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-extremist Barkhane force in the Sahel.

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