The United States military has carried out an operation that killed a senior ISIL (ISIS) leader in northern Somalia, US officials said.
A statement by Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on Thursday said Bilal al-Sudani, a US-designated ISIL leader in Somalia and “key facilitator for ISIS’s global network”, was killed in the operation.
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It added that the operation was approved by President Joe Biden earlier this week and carried out on January 25.
“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.
There were no other details about the operation given, including how the US forces carried out the operation or even how many American soldiers were involved.
US officials told reporters at a teleconference on Thursday that 10 of al-Sudani’s associates were also killed in the operation.
“We had prepared for the possibility of capturing Sudani, but the hostile forces’ response to the operation resulted in his death,” the State Department said.
In 2012 before he joined ISIS, al-Sudani was sanctioned by the US Department of Treasury for his role in facilitating financing for foreign fighters to travel to an al-Shabab training camp.
A Somali government offensive, which began in August 2022 against al-Shabab after the election of Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, has also made significant gains.
But the group, which has been fighting since 2007 to topple Somalia’s government and impose its strict interpretation of Islamic law, has responded with a series of attacks across the country.