The leader of the al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb terrorist group, Abdelmalek Drukdel, was killed in Mali, French Defense Minister Florence Parley said on Twitter. For two decades, he constantly threatened this country and was personally responsible for dozens of terrorist attacks. However, it is possible that the jihadist, who began his journey with the war in Afghanistan against the USSR, was surrendered by his own people – he has recently advocated negotiations with the authorities.
Florence Parley did not provide details of the operation and only noted that Drukdel was a member of the steering committee of central Al Qaeda (banned in the Russian Federation) and commanded militant groups in North Africa. However, according to French media, the mission was carried out near the border with Algeria in the Talhandak region: special services tracked the location of the militants with the help of drones, and after the strike of one UAV with a helicopter, special forces groups landed. In addition to the emir of AKIM Abdelmalek Drukdel, five people were eliminated, one surrendered without a fight.
Abdelmalek Drukdel was born in 1970 in the suburbs of Algeria. After graduating from the university, where he was educated as an engineer, he joined the war in Afghanistan on the side of the Taliban (the Taliban is banned in the Russian Federation): he fought against the USSR for a long time and gained fame as an expert on explosives. According to eyewitnesses, he was tough and purposeful.
In 2004, Abdelmalek Drukdel led the Salafi Preaching and Jihad Group (GSPC): he replaced Nabil Sahraoui, who was killed in a clash with the Algerian military personnel. And although Sahraui, before his death, announced that the GSPC would soon become part of Al-Qaeda, it was under Druckdell – in 2006 – that it received a stable franchise status. In September 2006, Ayman Zawahiri officially announced this (at that time he was still the deputy of Osama bin Laden, now he is the leader of the central organization). Two days later, Drukdel announced an alliance with al-Qaeda and confirmed the loyalty of the structure to the famous terrorist brand.
In 2007, the GSPC was restructured into Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. According to Drukdel, this step was personally agreed with bin Laden, and he received advice from his mentor, who did not live up to this time, the Jordanian Al-Zarqawi. The latter, like bin Laden, was destroyed by the United States, but its activities in Iraq led to the creation of the current “Islamic state”
It is believed that Drukdel acted in close conjunction with another odious jihadist smuggler Mokhtar Belmokhtar, who was also born in Algeria, went through the war in Afghanistan, and was injured by improper handling of explosives. However, there is quite a bit of evidence of competition between the two: Belmokhtar claimed leadership after the death of Sahraoui, and it was a precisely undercover war that explained his special status in Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, where he commanded a separate brigade. There are versions that the competition also explains the active stuffing against Belmokhtar that he conducted secret negotiations with special services. It is possible that the current liquidation of Drukdel is also associated with the “negotiations”: recently, he has actively advocated dialogue with the authorities and even mentioned this in several appeals. He was one of the most recognizable jihadist leaders because of the many videos he has been recording for two decades.
Drukdel, as the organization’s leader and blast specialist, is responsible for numerous abductions, attacks and sabotage, including attacks on the UN office in Algeria and the abduction of its employees in Niger. French intelligence agencies say Drukdel’s death could ruin the entire structure of al-Qaeda in the Sahel, as he recently tried to reorganize the command structure and extinguish AKIM’s conflicts with the Islamic State. However, there are great doubts about this: modern terrorist structures rely on the more or less autonomous existence of their cells and units – without clear coordination with the “core”. The Taliban in Afghanistan did not even feel the death of Mullah Omar, which his closest associates had hidden for three years, and the activity of the Islamic State in the Middle East and Africa has not decreased, despite the elimination of al-Baghdadi by US special forces in 2019.