July 14, 2024

US military kills top ISIS leader Bilal al-Sudani in Somalia

United States Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin passes the U.S. Africa Command guidon to General Michael Langley, incoming commander, U.S. Africa Command, during a change of command ceremony in Stuttgart, Germany, on August 9, 2022. Langley became the sixth commander since the command was established in 2008. Photo: Staff Sgt. Flor Gonzales
United States Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin passes the U.S. Africa Command guidon to General Michael Langley, incoming commander, U.S. Africa Command, during a change of command ceremony in Stuttgart, Germany, on August 9, 2022. Langley became the sixth commander since the command was established in 2008. Photo: Staff Sgt. Flor Gonzales

On the orders of President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the U.S. military conducted an assault operation in northern Somalia on Wednesday night that resulted in the death of Bilal al-Sudani, a key operative and facilitator for ISIS local network.

In addition, the precision operation, which was based on ‘extensive planning and exquisite execution of the plan’, killed approximately 10 of Sudani’s ISIS associates.

There were no casualties among American service members or civilians, a senior administration official told reporters on Thursday.

“We had prepared for the possibility of capturing Sudani, but the hostile forces response to the operation resulted in his death,” the official said, adding that the United States has “notified key counterterrorism partners, including the Somali government, with whom we work closely on a daily basis to protect their citizens and ours.”

The official added, “As I said, this operation was the result of extraordinary coordination and careful planning across all elements of the US. Government for many months.

“I and other senior members of the President’s national security team were first briefed on the intelligence a number of months ago, and we were regularly updated on the operations planning as it progressed.

“Once the planning reached a critical stage last week, the Department of Defense briefed the operation to the President. He was joined by his Director of National Intelligence, the Director of the National Counterterrorism Center, the Deputy Director of the CIA, the Attorney General, and senior members of his national security team.

“He authorized it earlier this week after further consultation, including ensuring the key questions that he had about the risk to our forces and the impact of the operation on potential civilians in the area had been answered to his satisfaction.

“The President’s decision to approve the operation followed a recommendation to report from his Secretary of Defense, advice from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and careful consideration of its.

The U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) said in a statement from Stuttgart in Germany where it is based that “Given the remote location of the operation, the assessment is that no civilians were injured or killed. Protecting civilians remains a vital part of the command’s operations to promote greater security for all Africans.” .

The development came just a day after the Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development Samantha Power met with Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud on January 24.

During that meeting, both leaders discussed the humanitarian situation in Somalia, advancing climate adaptation, and supporting the Federal Government of Somalia’s unprecedented efforts to diminish al-Shabaab’s corrosive influence across the country.

Power announced $5 million in USAID support to stabilization efforts that will help deliver urgently needed services to communities that have risen up against al-Shabaab. She further emphasized support for federal reconciliation, noting it as a necessary foundation for sustained progress on security, governance, and economic reform, USAID spokesperson Jessica Jennings said in a statement on Wednesday.

She added, “The Administrator expressed condolences to the people of Somalia after recent al-Shabaab attacks, and pledged to stand with the Somali people in their time of need,” Jennings added, “President Hassan Sheikh thanked the U.S. government for providing two-thirds of all donor funding for drought response, totaling nearly $1.3 billion, since the beginning of Fiscal Year 2022. They agreed on the urgency of mobilizing additional international support to fund emergency relief efforts as Somalia faces the prospect of a sixth failed rainy season.

“Given the sustained and repeated climate shocks in the region, the two also discussed finding more sustainable and transformative ways to address and adapt to the impacts of climate change on Somalia’s food security, and agreed to coordinate efforts to encourage greater investment in Somali-led climate adaptation and resilience programs.”

Al-Shabaab fighters killed

A U.S. airstrike on Monday killed two al-Shabaab fighters in a remote area near Xaradheere, approximately 396 km northeast of Mogadishu where Somali forces were conducting operations.

“Given the remote location of the operation, the initial assessment is that no civilians were injured or killed,” U.S. Africa Command wrote in a statement on Tuesday.

That Monday strike came just days after the United States army announced on Saturday morning that an airstrike it conducted on Friday killed over 30 al-Shabaab fighters in Somalia in self-defense.

“The strike occurred approximately 260 km northeast of Mogadishu near Galcad, Somalia where Somalia National Army forces were engaged in heavy fighting following a complex, extended, intense attack by more than 100 al-Shabaab fighters,” the U.S. Africa Command said in a statement received by Today News Africa.

“The combined actions by partner forces on the ground and the collective self-defense strike is estimated to have resulted in three destroyed vehicles and approximately thirty al-Shabaab terrorists killed,” added the Command.

The U.S. is one of several countries providing support to the Federal Government of Somalia in its ongoing campaign to disrupt, degrade and defeat terrorist groups.

“Rooting out extremism ultimately requires intervention beyond traditional military means, leveraging U.S. and partner efforts to support effective governance, promote stabilization and economic development, and resolve ongoing conflicts,” AFRICOM wrote in its statement on Tuesday.

It added, “U.S. Africa Command is the defense arm of the U.S. whole-of-government approach with African partners — diplomacy, development and defense.

“This three-pronged, or “3D” approach aims to increase cooperation and support for “partner-led, U.S.-enabled” solutions to shared security challenges, including violent extremism or terrorism.

“All kinetic operations conducted and supported by U.S. Africa Command are done in coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia.

“Somalia remains central to stability and security in all of East Africa. U.S. Africa Command’s forces will continue training, advising, and equipping partner forces to help give them the tools they need to defeat al-Shabaab, the largest and most deadly al-Qaeda network in the world.

“U.S. Africa Command will continue to assess the results of this operation and will provide additional information as appropriate. Specific details about the units involved and assets used will not be released in order to ensure operations security.

“The Federal Government of Somalia and U.S. Africa Command take great measures to prevent civilian casualties. Protecting civilians remains a vital part of the command’s operations to promote greater security for all Africans.”

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