On August 17, French military forces operating in the Sahel deployed a drone to the Dangalous Forest in northern Mali near the border with Niger, targeting members of ISIS in the Greater Sahara terrorist group and its leader, Adnan Abu Walid Al-Sahrawi. A French Special Forces unit was sent to confirm the identity of those killed by the strike. On September 15, once there was no question that Abu Walid indeed was among the dead, French President Emmanuel Macron made the announcement, calling the killing "a major success" for the French military after more than eight years fighting terrorists in the Sahel.
“The United States welcomes the announcement from our partner and ally France that its troops killed Adnan Abu Walid Al-Sahrawi,” said State Department Spokesperson Ned Price. “We commend France’s continued commitment to countering terrorism and protecting civilians in West Africa in coordination with our African partners.”
In late 2010, Abu Walid joined al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. Over the next five years, he was a member and later a leader of several al Qa’ida-aligned terrorist groups. In May 2015, he declared his allegiance to ISIS, and formed the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara terrorist group, which today operates in Mali, Niger and has in recent years involved itself in the Salafi-jihadist insurgency in Burkina Faso.
Abu Walid has been the commander of ISIS/GS since the group’s formation in 2015. Under his command, ISIS/GS launched numerous attacks against African, French, and U.S. forces, including a May 2019 ambush of a Nigerien military unit near the Niger/Mali border, which resulted in the deaths of 28 soldiers; a January 2018 suicide attack against French forces in Mali; a 2017 attack in Niger that killed five Nigerien and four U.S. soldiers; and a 2016 attack on a military outpost in Mali that killed four soldiers and several civilians. And according to the office of French President Macron, last year, Abu Walid personally ordered the killing of six French aid workers and their Nigerien colleagues.
“As the leader of ISIS in the Greater Sahara, Walid Al-Sahrawi bears responsibility for the violence that has taken the lives of countless civilians and military personnel in the Sahel,” said Spokesperson Price.
“The United States is committed to continuing to support the efforts of our African partners, France, and the international community to improve the safety and well-being of civilians in West Africa”