Born: 20 April 1970;
Place of Birth: Meftah, Algeria;
Abdelmalek Droukdel, also known by his nom de guerre as Abu Musab Abdel Wadoud, is the emir, or leader, of the Algerian Islamic militant group Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), formerly the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC).
Early life and education:
Droukdel was born in Meftah, Algeria, on 20 April 1970. He earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of Blida before joining the insurgency in 1996.
Afghan War, Algerian Civil War and the GSPC:
Droukdel returned to Algeria after fighting in the Afghan civil war, and joined the GSPC. Droukdel was a regional leader of the GSPC for several years before becoming the group’s commander in 2004 following the death of then-leader Nabil Sahraoui.
His mentor was Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi. After the killing of Zarqawi in 2006, Droukdel published a statement in a website and stated “O infidels and apostates, your joy will be brief and you will cry for a long time… we are all Zarqawi.” Droukdel is believed to have been responsible for introducing suicide bombing to Algeria.
Emir of AQIM:
Under Droukdel’s leadership the GSPC sought to develop itself from a largely domestic entity into a larger player on the international terror stage. As the new leader of the GSPC, Droukdel reorganized the group, and continued targeting civilians. He was, however, unable to quell the rumblings between factions.
In September 2006, it was announced that the GSPC had joined forces with al-Qaeda and in January 2007, the group officially changed its name to the “Al-Qaeda Organization in the Islamic Maghreb.” Droukdel played a significant role in this merge. However, the local leaders of the organization such as Droukdel began to pursue much more independent activities and were distanced from al-Qaeda in the last quarter of 2012.
Droukdel ousted Mokhtar Belmokhtar from the organization in late 2012 for Belmokhtar’s “fractious behaviour”. Journalists discovered a document attributed to Droukdel and dated 20 July 2012 in Timbuktu that criticized militants for implementing Islamic law too quickly in Mali. He believed the destruction of shrines would provoke Western governments to intervene in Mali.
In December 2007, the United States Department of the Treasury imposed financial sanctions and froze Abdelmalek Droukdel’s assets under Executive Order 13224.
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