Algeria’s Abu Obeida al-Annabi: Third possible candidate to succeed Zawahiri as head of Al-Qaeda

By Akram Kharief
Posted on Thursday, 1 September 2022 16:53

Abu Obeida Youssef al-Annabi © DR

Chosen by al-Qaeda’s Maghreb branch to apply for the leadership of the terrorist organisation, Algeria’s Abu Obeida Youssef al-Annabi, whose real name is Yazid Mebarek, joined the FIS at the end of the 1980s. Since then, he has risen through the ranks of North Africa’s Islamist groups.

On 21 November 2020, in a video produced by Al-Andalus, the media wing of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (Aqmi), Abdelmalek Ould Sidi (aka Qutaiba Abou Nooman al-Chinqiti), the jihadist organisation’s legal and religious leader, announced that the Committee of Wise Men had decided to appoint Abu Obeida Youssef al-Annabi as Aqmi’s supreme leader. This announcement, which took five months, is proof of the complexity of the organisation’s internal promotion process and the existing fracture between its two fringes surviving in the North and operating in the Sahel.

The central subject of the debates is whether to remain with the dogma of a leadership made up of “historic” Algerians, the organisation’s founders, or to favour new faces from the Sahel, which is the focal point of Aqmi’s struggle today.