Abu Obaida Yusuf al-Annabi, an Algerian, is the new leader of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). He is a well-known member of the jihadists that are terrorizing North Africa. He is replacing Abdelmalek Droukdel who was killed in a French operation in Mali last June.

Al-Annabi, who is also known as Sheikh Mujahid Yazid Mubarak, was formerly the head of AQIM’s council of dignitaries. He has been on a U.S. terrorism blacklist since 2015. A key proponent of an Islamic jihad against the French military’s ongoing counterterrorism mission in the Maghreb, Al-Annabi has been calling for a jihad against the French since 2013. He has regularly appeared in al-Qaeda’s propaganda videos.

AQIM began as the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC). It initially wanted to overthrow the Algerian government and install an Islamist state. 

In January 2007, the GSPC announced that it would thenceforth operate under the name of AQIM. In the same year, Abdelmalek Droukdel announced an alliance with al-Qaeda. He said that he had consulted with Osama bin Laden and pledged loyalty to the terrorist and his organization.

In 2011, Al-Annabi pledged allegiance in the group’s name to Ayman al-Zawahiri, the main al-Qaeda chief.

According to U.S. Army General Carter Ham, the former Head of the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), AQIM, the Somalia-based al-Shabaab, and the Nigeria-based Boko Haram have since 2012 been attempting to synchronize and coordinate their activities by sharing funds, training, and explosives.

AQIM eventually set its sights on Mali, especially with the number of Taureg recruits it was drawing in. It initially made big inroads in northern Mali before being pushed back by French forces in 2014.

The terrorist organization has claimed responsibility for numerous attacks on troops and civilians across the Sahel region. These have included a 2016 attack on a hotel and restaurant in Burkina Faso that killed 30 people, mostly Westerners.