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US special forces kill senior Islamic State official, 10 other terrorists in Somalia

US special operations troops killed a top Islamic State (IS) official and ten other militants in remote northern Somalia, according to reports. Al-Sudani, who has been on the radar of US intelligence agencies for years, was known for funding IS operations in Africa.

US special forces kill senior Islamic State official, 10 other terrorists in Somalia - adt
First Published Jan 27, 2023, 8:56 AM IST

The Biden administration reported on Thursday that the US special operations forces killed a senior Islamic State group official and ten other terrorist operatives in rural northern Somalia. 

On Wednesday, an operation was carried out in a mountainous cave complex targeted Bilal al-Sudani, a key financial facilitator for the global terrorist organisation. 

In its statement, Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin said, "This move makes the United States and its partners safer and more secure, and it underscores our unwavering commitment to defending Americans at home and abroad from the threat of terrorism."

President Joe Biden was informed of the potential expedition last week, which came together after months of planning. According to the two top Biden administration officials who briefed reporters on the operation on the condition of anonymity, he approved carrying out the operation this week after the suggestion of Austin and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army Gen. Mark Milley. 

Al-Sudani, who has been on the radar of US intelligence officers for years, had a crucial role in funding IS operations in Africa and the ISIS-K terrorist branch operating in Afghanistan, said Austin. 

Last year, the US Treasury Department claimed that al-Sudani collaborated with another IS operative, Abdella Hussein Abadigga, who recruited young men in South Africa and sent them to a weapons training camp.

Abadigga, who ran two mosques in South Africa, used his position to extort money from mosque members. Treasury said that Al-Sudani regarded Abadigga as a trustworthy supporter who might assist IS followers in South Africa in becoming more organised and recruiting new members.

The Treasury Department first designated Al-Sudani in 2012 for his involvement with al-Shabab, another Somali terrorist organisation. According to a senior administration official, he assisted foreign fighters in travelling to an al-Shabab training camp and provided funding for deadly extremists in Somalia.

Pentagon officials said no civilians were hurt or killed during the operation. The administration official said that one American who participated in the operation was bitten by a military dog but was not gravely hurt. 

Officials from the United States offered few specifics regarding how the operation was carried out or the circumstances surrounding al-Sudani's killing. According to one official, US forces wanted to capture al-Sudani, but that did not prove to be 'feasible' as the operation was carried out.

The action comes just days after Africa Command announced a collective self-defence strike northeast of Mogadishu, near Galcad. Following an extended and furious attack by more than 100 al-Shabab fighters, Somalia National Army personnel fought hard in that incident.

The United States estimated that 30 al-Shabab members were killed in that operation. Somalian forces' offensive against al-Shabab has been the most significant in over a decade. Al-Shabab has a considerably stronger presence in Somalia than IS.

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