The US military carried out covert operations in Somalia leading to the killing of senior terrorists and 10 others, the Biden administration announced on Friday. As per the administration the strike was carried out on Wednesday which ended up taking the life of Bilal al-Sudani, an important part of a global terrorist organisation.
“This action leaves the United States and its partners safer and more secure, and it reflects our steadfast commitment to protecting Americans from the threat of terrorism at home and abroad,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a statement.
President Joe Biden was briefed last week about the proposed mission, which came together after months of planning. He gave final approval to carry out the operation this week following the recommendation of Austin and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army Gen. Mark Milley, according to two senior Biden administration officials who briefed reporters on the operation on the condition of anonymity.
Al-Sudani, who has been on the radar of US intelligence officials for years, played a key role in helping to fund IS operations in Africa as well as the ISIS-K terrorist branch operating in Afghanistan, Austin said. The US Treasury Department alleged last year that al-Sudani had worked closely with another IS operative, Abdella Hussein Abadigga, who had recruited young men in South Africa and sent them to a weapons training camp.
Abadigga, who controlled two mosques in South Africa, used his position to extort money from members of the mosques. Al-Sudani considered Abadigga a trusted supporter who could help the IS supporters in South Africa become better organised and recruit new members, according to Treasury. Al-Sudani had originally been designated to the Treasury Department in 2012 for his role with al-Shabab, another terrorist organisation operating in Somalia. He helped foreign fighters travel to an al-Shabab training camp and facilitated financing for violent extremists in Somalia, according to a senior administration official.
No civilians were injured or killed in the operation, Pentagon officials said. One American involved in the operation was bitten by a military dog but was not seriously injured, according to an administration official. US officials provided scant details about how the operation was carried out or the circumstances surrounding al-Sudani's killing. One official said that US forces had intended to capture al-Sudani but that did not prove to be “feasible” as the operation was carried out.
The operation comes days after Africa Command said it had conducted a collective self-defence strike northeast of Mogadishu, the capital, near Galcad. In that incident, Somalia National Army forces were engaged in heavy fighting following an extended and intense attack by more than 100 al-Shabab fighters. The US estimated approximately 30 al-Shabab fighters were killed in that operation.
The offensive by Somalian forces against al-Shabab has been described as the most significant in more than a decade. Al-Shabab holds a much larger footprint in Somalia than does IS.
(With inputs from AP)
ALSO READ | J&K: Ahead of R-Day, Army busts two terrorist hideouts, recovers weapons in Poonch
ALSO READ | Punjab: Khalistani terrorist, close associate of fugitive Landa Harike arrested in Amritsar