According to US officials, President Joe Biden last week authorized a US military operation in Somalia that resulted in the death of Bilal al-Sudani, an important regional figurehead for the Islamic State.
To capture Sudani, US troops entered a network of mountainous caves in northern Somalia on Wednesday. During the ensuing shootout, Sudani was killed.
There were about ten Sudanese members of the Islamic State who were present at the scene, but no Americans were hurt, officials stated on Thursday.
“On January 25, on orders from the president, the US military conducted an assault operation in northern Somalia that resulted in the death of several Isis members, including Bilal al-Sudani,” Lloyd Austin, the secretary of defense, said in a statement.
Al-Sudani was in charge of supporting the expansion of Isis in Africa and providing money for the organization’s activities around the world, including those in Afghanistan, According to Austin.
Groups affiliated with Isis launch new fronts in sub-Saharan Africa. He provided and handled the financing for IS branches not only in Africa but also for Islamic State Khorasan.
This branch controls Afghanistan, a US official claimed under the condition of anonymity. He did this from his mountain stronghold in northern Somalia.
Sudani was actively recruiting and training fighters for the radical al-Shabaab movement in Somalia ten years ago before joining the IS.
According to the official, “Sudani had a critical operational and financial role and specialized talents, making him an important target for US counterterrorism action.”
The US forces had been practicing at a location created to mimic the terrain where Sudani was hiding during the months-long preparation for the operation.
After speaking with senior defense, intelligence, and security officials earlier this week, Biden authorized the strike, the individual claimed.
Another administration source stated that “an intentional capture operation was eventually found to be the best choice to maximize the intelligence value of the operation and boost its precision in difficult terrain.” However, the official said that “the hostile troops’ response to the operation resulted in his death.”
According to the official, the only injury sustained by an American during the raid was caused by a US military service dog biting one of the service members.
Concerning this operation and all others, the official stated, “President Biden has made it clear that we are dedicated to discovering and destroying terrorist threats to the United States and the American people, wherever they are hiding, no matter how remote.”
Long-standing US military operations in Somalia have been conducted in conjunction with and on behalf of the government, with the majority including routine aerial assaults to support government forces battling Shabaab rebels.
Some of those are reportedly carried out from a US base in Djibouti, located north of Somalia. Between 2017 and 2020, the number of US aerial strikes in Somalia increased to dozens per year; nevertheless, each year also saw two to four ground operations.
Data provided by New America, a national security think organization, shows that since Biden took office in 2021, the aircraft strikes have decreased to just 16 in 2022, and no ground strikes have been noted.
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