image Photo: Reuters

France, Germany battle Islamist terrorists

French forces killed the head of Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS), while German police foiled an Islamist attack on a synagogue.

By Erin Viner

French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly has revealed that ISGA leader Adnan Abu Walid al-Sahrawi was tracked by French counter-terrorism forces in northern Mali and then killed by a drone strike while riding a motorbike in mid-August.

“The death of Sahrawi is a decisive blow to ISGS and its cohesion,” she underscored, while vowing to continue hunting down jihadist leaders to restore stability in the Sahel.

The ISGS is a jihadist group that broke away from other militants in Mali when it pledged allegiance to Islamic State (ISIS) in 2015. Since that time the terror group has spread into neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger, perpetrated hundreds of deadly attacks on civilians and armed forces, causing large areas of West Africa’s arid Sahel region to be ungovernable.

Paris believes that hundreds of fighters are members of the ISGS, which it holds responsible for the deaths of 2,000-3,000 mostly Muslim people. The office of French President Emmanuel Macron blamed Sahrawi for the killing of 6 French charity workers and their Nigerian driver in August 2020 as well as the deaths of American soldiers in a 2017.

The French strike force of 5,000 , which has been reshaped to include more European partners, redeployed from bases in northern Mali earlier this month. Paris has also engaged in a diplomatic offensive to prevent the Malian junta from enlisting Russian mercenaries, arguing that their inclusion would be incompatible with its own presence in the West African Republic.

Sahrawi’s death is the latest of a recent series of successful strike that eliminated 5 of 7 top ISGS commanders. It also follows the killing of the leader of Nigeria’s Boko Haram Islamist terror group,  Abubakar Shekau, two months prior.

Meanwhile, four suspected Islamists were arrested for plotting an attack on a synagogue in the west German town of Hagen on a synagogue during Yom Kippur.

The suspects include a 16-year-old Syrian youth, said Interior Minister for the state of North Rhine-Westphalia Herbert Reul. He revealed that the attack was thwarted after officials received a “a very serious and concrete tip” of an impending attack.

Security was tightened at the house of worship, which was forced to close its doors to congregants on the holiest day on the Jewish calendar.

“It is intolerable that Jews are again exposed to such a horrible threat and that they cannot celebrate the start of their highest holiday, Yom Kippur, together,” said German Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht.

Germany has witnessed an escalation of anti-Semitic violence in recent years. A neo-Nazi gunman is now serving a life term for an armed attack on a synagogue in the eastern town of Halle in 2019, that claimed the lives of two people.

In related developments, a Palestinian terrorist was arrested in Jaffa on Yom Kippur for stabbing a man in Jaffa, near Tel Aviv.

Police sources say the assailant had illegally entered Israel from the West Bank with the expressed intent of harming Jews. His victim, however, was a 49-year-old Christian from Jerusalem, who was seriously wounded in the attack.

The most recent incident comes amid a wave of violence representing what Jerusalem District Police Commander Doron Turgeman described as leaving “no doubt there is an escalation.” Similar stabbing attacks in Jerusalem left 2 Israeli teens in Jerusalem with moderately wounds last Monday, while a week ago a Border Police officer was lightly wounded near the Lions Gate entry into the Old City.