Abu Ubaidah Youssef al-Annabi
Terror organization: Algerian Islamic militant group Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM);
Status: Emir, leader;
Roll: Encouraging for terror along the region, especially known for his attacks against the French forces and its allies. Area of operation is Alegria, Mali;
Ideologies and Affiliations: Al-Qaeda affiliated group, Islamist, jihadist, Qutbist, Salafist, Sunni, takfiri;
Also Known As: Abou Obeida Youssef Al-Annabi; Abu-Ubaydah Yusuf Al-lnabi; Mebrak Yazid; Youcef Abu Obeida; Mibrak Yazid; Yousif Abu Obayda Yazid; Yazid Mebrak; Yazid Mabrak; Yusuf Abu Ubaydah; Abou Youcef; Abu Obaida al-Annabi;
Date Of Birth: February 7, 1969;
Abu Ubaydah Yusuf al-Anabi is a U.S.- and U.N.-designated Algerian is currently the leader of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM);
Abu Ubaydah Yusuf al-Anabi is a U.S.- and U.N.-designated Algerian is currently the leader of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Al-Anabi was previously the leader of AQIM’s Council of Notables, served on AQIM’s Shura Council, and was also AQIM’s media chief. Al-Anabi was announced as the next emir of AQIM on November 21, 2020, following the death of former leader, Abdelmalek Droukdel, by French troops in June 2020.
Before being appointed emir of AQIM, al-Anabi was the reported leader of the Council of Notables, which is AQIM’s central decision-making body, as well as a member of the Shura Council that governs Islamic legal matters. Furthermore, al-Anabi often appeared in AQIM’s videos that are produced through AQIM’s own media wing, Al-Andalus Media Productions, which al-Anabi reportedly headed as media chief. Before joining AQIM, al-Anabi held similar roles in AQIM’s Algerian predecessor, the Groupe salafiste pour la prédication et le combat (GSPC). Founded in 1998, GSPC was an Islamic insurgent group that broke away from the violent Groupe Islamique Armé (GIA), which emerged during the Algerian civil war. Droukdel assumed leadership of GSPC in 2004 and in 2006, GSPC swore allegiance to al-Qaeda before Droukdel rebranded the group to AQIM in 2007. Allegedly, al-Anabi was almost killed in an Algerian army ambush against AQIM in Bouzguen, north-central Algeria, in November 2009.
Within AQIM, al-Anabi’s was often considered second-in-command which created a level of rivalry with Droukdel. The two allegedly disagreed over the management of AQIM as Droukdel sought to marginalize al-Anabi and the Council of Notables. Some AQIM insiders allege that al-Anabi demonstrated an attempt to seize power from Droukdel when he released a March 2010 recruitment video in which he—speaking for the entire AQIM—called on Muslim youth in the Sahara and the Sahel to join the jihad.
In a video released on April 25, 2013, al-Anabi called for armed conflict by violent extremists against French interests throughout the world. The call to arms was supposedly in response to France’s intervention in Mali.
Given al-Anabi’s advocacy for local and international jihad, on September 29, 2015, U.S. Department of State designated al-Anabi as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist for providing support to terrorists or acts of terrorism. In January 2016, al-Anabi released another audio message calling on Libyans to join the fight against the Libyan army and the “French forces” in Benghazi. Shortly afterwards, on February 29, 2016, the United Nations Security Council listed al-Anabi as an individual associated with “participating in the financing, planning, facilitating, preparing, or perpetrating of acts or activities” by AQIM.
On March 9, 2019, al-Anabi delivered a speech in which he called on Muslims to unite to ensure that Algeria is ruled according to Islam “alone” and that Algerian people employ “Islamic morals and sharia ethics” in their street demonstrations against the 20-year rule of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
In an interview with France 24 in early 2019, al-Anabi discussed how AQIM will continue their attacks against French military presence in the Sahel, the negotiations concerning the French hostage Sophie Pétronin—who was eventually released on October 9, 2020 after almost four years as a hostage—and al-Qaeda’s relations with ISIS. In regards to AQIM’s relations with ISIS, al-Anabi initially claimed that ISIS and AQIM did not clash in the Sahel, but did assert that AQIM was a much more threatening force than ISIS—which he considers to be guerilla gangs rather than a legitimate organization—in the region.
Following the death of AQIM leader, Abdelmalek Droukdel, by French troops in Mali on June 4, 2020, AQIM did not immediately appoint a new leader. The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism suspected that al-Anabi would be a possible contender as Droukdel’s replacement. According to SITE Intelligence Group, on November 21, 2020, AQIM released a video that showed a body of its former leader while also announcing al-Anabi as the group’s new leader.
On June 2, 2021, the U.S. Department of State’s Rewards for Justice Program offered a reward of up to $7 million for information leading to the identification or location of al-Anabi.
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