- Al-Qaeda will seek to avenge death of AQM leader Droukdel, raising risk of major attack on Western interests in Sahel in coming months
- Droukdel’s death marks further blow to al-Qaeda leadership but group’s operational capacity in Sahel will remain unaffected
- AQAP remains central to coordination of al-Qaeda operations in West, but limited capabilities outside Yemen will reduce risk of successful international attacks
France claimed on 5 June to have killed Abdelmalek Droukdel, the leader of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQM), during anti-jihadist operations in northeastern Mali. Droukdel and several other militants were reportedly killed by French special forces on 3 June in Talhandak, close to the Algerian border. Meanwhile, the FBI announced on 18 May that it had gained new evidence linking al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) to a shooting last year at the Pensacola naval base in Florida. The new information connecting Mohammed Saeed al-Shamrani, a 21-year-old officer with the Royal Saudi Air Force, to AQAP emerged after US officials broke the encryption on al-Shamrani’s mobile phone. Al-Qaeda had said at the time that it orchestrated the incident, but provided no evidence to support its claim, only publishing documents showing al-Shamrani had been in contact with the group.
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