A renowned ISIS leader with a $5 million bounty on his head for killing American special forces men has been slain in West Africa by the French military.
Adnan Abu Walid al-Sahrawi, who was in his late 40s at the time, was ‘neutralised’ four years after ordering a deadly ambush in Niger that killed Army Sgt David Johnson, 25, Staff Sgt Bryan Black, 35, Staff Sgt Jeremiah Johnson, 39, and Staff Sgt Dustin Wright, 29.
The attack also resulted in the deaths of four Nigerien troops, as well as the serious injuries of two American soldiers and eight Nigerien soldiers.
French President Emmanuel confirmed Al-Sahrawi was dead
Al-Sahrawi, who also went by the name Lehbib Ould, died in the early hours of Thursday morning, according to French President Emmanuel Macron.
Mr Macron wrote in a Tweet: ‘Adnan Abu Walid al-Sahrawi, leader of the terrorist group Islamic State in the Greater Sahara was neutralised by French forces.
‘This is another major success in our fight against terrorist groups in the Sahel,’ said Mr Macron, referring to a vast area of mainly desert land in Africa where groups such as ISIS and Al-Qaeda operate.
There was no immediate word on what was used to kill Al-Sahraoui, where the attack took place, or when it occurred, but an Élysée Palace spokesman said the ISIS leader ‘was definitely dead.’
Following anti-terrorist operations codenamed Serval and Barkhane, which resulted in mounting French losses, Mr Macron announced in August that he would be pulling many of his troops out of the Sahel, which covers a number of African countries including Niger and Mali.
The President, on the other hand, stated that special forces, backed up by air power, including armed drones, would continue their search for top terrorists.
‘The nation is thinking this evening of all its heroes who died for France in the Sahel, in the Serval and Barkhane operations, of the bereaved families, of all of its wounded,’ Mr Macon wrote in his Al-Sahraoui tweet.
‘Their sacrifice is not in vain. With our African, European and American partners, we will continue this fight.’
ISIS leader had $5m bounty on his head
In October 2019, the US State Department offered a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to Al-Sahrawi’s or killing.
In January 2018, Moroccan-born Al-Sahrawi claimed responsibility for the ambush while establishing his ISIS reputation.
In August 2020, Adnan Abou Walid Al-Sahrawi admitted to ‘personally ordering’ the assassination of six French aid workers, as well as their local guide and driver.
They were all killed by a group of ISIS gunmen on motorbikes as they were leaving the Kouré Giraffe Reserve in Niger.
Who is Al-Sahrawi?
Al-Sahrawi began his adult life fighting a guerrilla war in the western Sahara against Moroccan forces before joining various jihadi groups that eventually merged with ISIS in 2015.
A year later, he was said to have been lightly wounded in a firefight with Al-Qaeda loyalists, but he continued to lead operations, primarily against pro-western government forces.
According to intelligence sources in Paris, Al-Sahrawi, who was married, came close to being killed by the French in February 2018 near Méneka, Mali, but ‘escaped on foot in the middle of the night with some of his men.’
Mr Macron’s decision to scale back anti-terrorist operations in Africa sparked accusations that he was abandoning a critical war, similar to what the US did in Afghanistan.
However, the assassination of Al-Sahraoui will be seen as a major victory for French forces as they pursue a new strategy in a strategically important region of the world.
(Source: Daily Mail)