Al-Qaeda in North Africa appoints new leader to replace Droukdel

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Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has elected a new leader to replace Abdelmalek Droukdel, who was killed in June by French forces, the SITE monitoring group reported on Saturday.

Algerian Abu Obaida Yusuf al-Annabi, head of AQIM’s Dignitaries Council, was appointed Droukdel’s successor, SITE said.

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

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 citizen Beatrice Stoeckli, who was abducted in Timbuktu while serving as a missionary in 2016.

It accused her of death for an attempt by “French crusaders” to free her.

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb came from a group started in the late 1990s by radical Algerian Islamists, who in 2007 promised allegiance to Osama Bin Laden’s al-Qaeda network.

The group has claimed responsibility for many attacks on troops and civilians throughout the Sahel region, including a 2016 attack on an exclusive hotel and restaurant in Burkina Faso that killed 30 people, mostly Westerners.

France has more than 5,000 troops deployed in its anti-jihadist Barkhane force in the Sahel.