US special ops kill senior ISIS leader, 10 associates in Somalia raid

“Al-Sudani was responsible for fostering the growing presence of ISIS in Africa and for funding the group’s operations worldwide, including in Afghanistan,” Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said.

Somali security officers drive past a section of Hotel Hayat, the scene of an al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab attack in Mogadishu, Somalia. (File Photo: Reuters)

US forces carried out a raid this week that killed a senior ISIS commander in Somalia and ten of his associates, officials said on Thursday.

The operation was ordered by US President Joe Biden and carried out on Wednesday. Bilal al-Sudani was the senior ISIS figure targeted and killed, according to a statement from Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.

“Al-Sudani was responsible for fostering the growing presence of ISIS in Africa and for funding the group’s operations worldwide, including in Afghanistan,” Austin said. “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.”

No civilians were harmed during the operation, senior US administration officials said.

An official told reports that US special operations forces raided a cave complex in the mountains of northern Somalia, hoping to capture al-Sudani initially.

Officials said that Biden was briefed about the operation last week and approved it this week.

Last year, the Biden administration redeployed hundreds of US troops to Somalia, reversing a decision by former President Donald Trump to withdraw the forces that were on a counterterrorism mission.

“Al-Shabab has taken advantage of Somali instability and fractious politics to become al-Qaeda’s largest and wealthiest global affiliate. It exerts influence essentially throughout the country of Somalia,” a US official said at the time.

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