Sufyan al Maghribi, a Moroccan who served as the group’s military chief in Afghanistan and Pakistan, is one of many unknown al Qaeda leaders who “work in silence and leave in silence,” according to a prominent fellow who reported his death one year ago.
Maghribi was also a contributor to the jihadist group’s Vanguards of Khorasan magazine.
Maghribi’s death was confirmed in a message released yesterday by al Qaeda that featured Ayman al Zawahiri.
Al Qaeda’s announcement of Maghrebi’s death was the first item mentioned, an indication of his prominence and importance to the organization. At five seconds into the video, text was displayed that noted his demise.
Al Qaeda’s military emirs for Khorasan operate in secret
Maghrebi is the latest al Qaeda military commander for the Khorasan to have been killed in a US drone strike in the Afghan-Pakistan region.
Maghribi replaced Farman Shinwari, the previous commander of al Qaeda military forces in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region.
Shinwari, a commander in the al Qaeda-linked Harakat-ul-Mujahideen, is thought to have been killed in a US drone strike sometime in 2013. In a video released by al Qaeda in May 2013, the group referred to Shinwari as if he were dead.
Harakat-ul-Mujahedeen is currently running training camps in Afghanistan, according to the US government.
Shinwari replaced Badr Mansoor, who was killed in a drone strike in 2012. Mansoor, who commanded an al Qaeda “company,” was also a leader in the Harakat-ul-Mujahideen.
Little was known about Maghrebi and his predecessors until after they were killed.
Al Qaeda appears to have had little trouble replacing them. Despite Maghrebi’s death in 2014, his successor, whose name is not known, was able to establish two training camps in Shorabak district in Kandahar and another in Paktika, as well as continue to support al Qaeda in its ongoing offensives throughout Afghanistan.