Abu Yahya al-Jazairi

Abu Yahya al-Jazairi was the alleged leader of Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen (JNIM) in the Emirate of Timbuktu of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). A veteran AQIM and JNIM military leader, al-Jazairi was killed in battle against Malian armed forces on April 6, 2020.“Letter dated 16 July 2020 from the Chair of the Security Council Committee pursuant to resolutions 1267 (1999), 1989 (2011) and 2253 (2015) concerning Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Da’esh), Al-Qaida and associated individuals, groups, undertakings and entities addressed to the President of the Security Council,” United Nations Security Council, July 23, 2020, https://www.securitycouncilreport.org/atf/cf/%7B65BFCF9B-6D27-4E9C-8CD3-CF6E4FF96FF9%7D/s_2020_717.pdf; Ahmed Adel, “Abd al-Rahman Talha al-Libi: First Mauritanian to lead Sahara Emirate,” The Portal-Center, July 22, 2020, http://www.theportal-center.com/2020/07/abd-al-rahman-talha-al-libi-first-mauritanian-to-lead-sahara-emirate/.

Allegedly of Algerian descent, not much else is known about al-Jazairi. Al-Jazairi’s appointment as emir of Timbuktu was unusual as JNIM’s Timbuktu emirate traditionally favors appointing leaders that share a similar ethnic background with tribes in the region. The strategy helps to enhance communal relations and promise continued support for the militant group.Mathieu Pellerin, “Armed Violence in the Sahara: Are We Moving from Jihadism to Insurgency?,” IFRI Subsaharan Africa Center, November 2019, https://www.ifri.org/sites/default/files/atoms/files/pellerin_armed_violence_sahara_2020_okes.pdf.

Al-Jazairi was the successor to U.N.-designated Djamel Okacha, the former emir of Timbuktu who was killed by French forces in northern Mali on February 21, 2019.“Letter dated 21 January 2021 from the Chair of the Security Council Committee pursuant to resolutions 1267 (1999), 1989 (2011) and 2253 (2015) concerning Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Da’esh), Al-Qaida and associated individuals, groups, undertakings and entities addressed to the President of the Security Council,” United Nations Security Council, February 3, 2021, https://undocs.org/pdf?symbol=en/S/2021/68; Caleb Weiss, “French Military Claims Senior JNIM Leader Killed,” Long War Journal, February 22, 2019, https://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2019/02/french-military-claims-senior-jnim-leader-killed.php. Allegedly, at the time of Okacha’s death, AQIM’s strategy was to replace JNIM combatants and prominent figures killed in counterterrorism operations with seasoned fighters coming from Libya.“Letter dated 15 July 2019 from the Chair of the Security Council Committee pursuant to resolutions 1267 (1999), 1989 (2011) and 2253 (2015) concerning Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Da’esh), Al-Qaida and associated individuals, groups, undertakings and entities addressed to the President of the Security Council,” United Nations Security Council, July 15, 2019, https://undocs.org/pdf?symbol=en/S/2019/570. Al-Jazairi was killed in battle against the Malian armed forces on April 6, 2020 in Bamba, Mali and was quickly replaced by Abd al-Rahman Talha al-Libi.“Letter dated 16 July 2020 from the Chair of the Security Council Committee pursuant to resolutions 1267 (1999), 1989 (2011) and 2253 (2015) concerning Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Da’esh), Al-Qaida and associated individuals, groups, undertakings and entities addressed to the President of the Security Council,” United Nations Security Council, July 23, 2020, https://www.securitycouncilreport.org/atf/cf/%7B65BFCF9B-6D27-4E9C-8CD3-CF6E4FF96FF9%7D/s_2020_717.pdf; Ahmed Adel, “Abd al-Rahman Talha al-Libi: First Mauritanian to lead Sahara Emirate,” The Portal-Center, July 22, 2020, http://www.theportal-center.com/2020/07/abd-al-rahman-talha-al-libi-first-mauritanian-to-lead-sahara-emirate/.

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