Coming roughly a month after France reported it had killed Abu Walid al Sahrawi, the Islamic State’s leader in the Sahel, the Islamic State itself has finally subtly confirmed the reports. The jihadist group has not publicly named a successor.
France says Abu Walid al Sahrawi, the leader of the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara, was killed in a drone strike in August. Al Sahrawi became a key figure in the global rivalry between the Islamic State and al Qaeda. His men were responsible for the Oct. 2017 ambush near Tongo Tongo, Niger that killed four U.S. soldiers.
The Islamic State issued several claims of responsibility for attacks by the group known as the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger.
The operations, which occurred alongside French special forces, were to reportedly kill or capture Abu Walid al Sahrawi, the leader of the so-called Islamic State in the Greater Sahara.
The Islamic State has officially recognized a loyalty oath sworn by Abu Walid al Sahrawi, a jihadist based in West Africa. Sahrawi first swore his fealty to Abu Bakr al Baghdadi in May 2015. It is not clear why it took so long for the so-called caliphate to recognize him as one of its representatives.
Al Jazeera has reportedly obtained an audio message from Adnan Abu Walid al Sahrawi in which he threatens to attack Morocco. Little has been heard from Sahrawi since May 2015, when he broke from Al Murabitoon and declared his fealty to the Islamic State. If the message is authentic, then it could indicate that he and his men plan on initiating new operations.