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Biden-authorized military operation takes down 11 terrorists in Somalia

By Sarah May
|
January 27, 2023

The U.S. Department of Defense announced Thursday that on orders of President Joe Biden, American special operations forces carried out an operation in a remote part of northern Somalia, killing top Islamic State group official along with 10 other terrorist figures, according to the Associated Press.

The primary target of the mission was Bilal al-Sudani, whom the Pentagon described as “a key facilitator for ISIS's global network” and someone “responsible for fostering the growing presence of ISIS in Africa and for funding the group's operations worldwide, including in Afghanistan.”

Biden green-lights mission

As the AP noted, President Joe Biden received a briefing last week about the planned mission, which was reportedly in the works for several months.

It was not until this week, however, that the president provided the final go-ahead for the operation, using recommendations from Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Gen. Mark Milley as the basis for his decision.

Few details were provided about the logistics of the operation, though the AP indicated that one American official suggested that the initial plan was merely to capture al-Sudani, but once the mission began, that did not emerge as a “feasible” option.

The Pentagon did reveal, however, that no civilians were killed or injured in the mission, and one American who took part in the operation suffered a dog bite from a military animal, but the injury was reportedly not serious.

“Key facilitator” neutralized

The AP indicated that Al-Sudani had been of significant interest to the U.S. intelligence community for quite some time, given his role in funding IS and ISIS-K operations in volatile parts of the world.

Back in 2022, the Treasury Department reportedly claimed that al-Sudani was working in conjunction with notable IS operative Abdella Hussein Abadigga.

It was claimed that Abadigga, who was in control of two South African mosques, was in the practice of extorting funds from members of the religious institutions and had earned the respect of Al-Sudani for his perceived ability to mobilize and recruit for IS in that country.

In addition, the Treasury Department flagged Al-Sudani as far back as 2012 for his involvement with al-Shabab, assisting foreigners wishing to travel to terrorist training camps and helping finance violent extremism within Somalia.

Operation follows self-defense strike

The aforementioned mission comes immediately on the heels after what Africa Command referred to as a self-defense strike northeast of the Somalian capital of Mogadishu, as the AP added.

As part of that event, Somalia National Army forces took part in heavy fighting in the wake of an attack from at least 100 al-Shabab fighters.

That incident included an explosion and siege at the Mogadishu Municipality Headquarters, according to the Daily Mail.

According to American military sources, roughly 30 al-Shabab members died as a result of the operation, which was characterized as the most substantial launched by Somalian forces against the group in over 10 years.

Mission deemed a success

Though, as the Daily Mail noted, few specifics about the mission itself were released by the U.S. military, officials expressed approval of the precision with which it was carried out.

The operation reportedly included the custom construction of a site meant to replicate the mountainous terrain on which it would be launched and was said to have been characterized by “exquisite execution.”

Austin himself applauded those involved in the mission, declaring, “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 terrorists at home and abroad.”

“We are grateful to our extraordinary service members as well as our intelligence community and other interagency partners for their support to this successful counterterrorism operation,” Austin concluded.