France announces the death of a major jihadist leader in the Sahel

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Bamako-Mali: The Moroccan Abou Abderahman al Maghrebi, aka Ali Maychou, considered the number two and religious leader of the Support Group for Islam and Muslims ( GSIM ), a jihadist organization linked to Al Qaeda, was killed by French forces in In early October, AFP announced Tuesday the French Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly.

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The jihadist was killed “on the night of October 8 to 9” on Malian soil in coordination with Malian forces and American support, she said in the plane that brought her back from a tour in several countries of the Sahel region, where some 4,500 French soldiers are deployed as part of the anti-Jihadist operation Barkhane.

This Moroccan was “the second most wanted terrorist in the Sahel – including by the Americans,” said the minister on the plane that brought her from Gao, Mali, to France. He joined Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb ( AQIM ) in 2012.

He became its spiritual leader before joining the founding of the Support Group for Islam and Muslims ( GSIM ) in 2017 with Iyad Ag Ghali, the number one of the organization he was closest to (and who is at the top of the wanted list).

The GSIM claimed recent attacks in late September early October against the Malian forces Boulkessy and Mondoro with 40 soldiers killed. The group also claimed the Ouagadougou attack of March 2018 (8 dead). The Ouagadougou attacks of 2016 (30 dead) and 2017 (19 dead) are also the work of Al Qaeda.

The brain of Al Qaeda’s expansion in the Sahel, the architect of the South Katibas unit within GSIM , Ali Maychou is the second major GSIM figure killed this year after the death of Algerian Djamel Okacha , aka Yahya Abu El Hamame in February.

“This is the neutralization of a very influential character,” told AFP Mrs. Parly, the day after her visit to Burkina Faso, where she met with French special forces.

“It is very important to disorganize these movements in depth,” said the minister, “but that does not mean that these movements are self-destruct in parallel.”

“We must continue this work against terrorism but this is only one element” of the task to be done to secure the Sahel countries, she said, mentioning the importance of accompanying the local armed forces to that they gain autonomy.

Safe degradation

“The real victory will be that of the Sahelian armies,” she said while the security situation in the area is severely degraded.

The news of this elimination comes days after the death of a French soldier in northeastern Mali, killed by an explosive device. The group Islamic State in the Great Sahara ( EIGS ), another jihadist organization active in Mali, claimed responsibility for this attack, as well as that of a military camp in the north of the country where 49 soldiers were killed on Friday (two others died on Saturday killed by an explosion in the center).

Despite the presence of French, African and UN forces, the deterioration of the security situation and the setbacks reinforce doubts about the ability of the Malian army to deal with jihadist acts and other violence to which this vast country has fallen prey since 2012 and that have made thousands of deaths, civilians and fighters.

More broadly, all the national armies of the Sahelian countries, among the poorest in the world, seem unable to stop the progression of attacks.

France hopes that other European countries will contribute to the armed struggle against the jihadists by sending special forces to Mali in 2020, while at the same time, Paris animates within the organization G5 Sahel a component of development of these countries to fight also through the jihadist movements, calling on different countries and institutions to fund projects.

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