BREAKING NEWS: Biden-approved Special Operations strike kills top ISIS ‘operative and facilitator’ and 10 other terrorists hiding in a cave in Somalia
- Biden authorized the operation earlier this week
- The US sought to capture Bilal al-Sudani for intelligence reasons
- 10 ‘ISIS associates’ died; there were no US casualties, said US official
The U.S. military carried out a ‘precision operation’ in Northern Somalia that took out a Bilal al-Sudani, a ‘key operative and facilitator,’ senior U.S. officials said Thursday.
Al-Sudani was killed January 25 inside the mountainous cave complex where he was located after ‘careful planning,’ according to the officials, who said 10 ISIS compatriots died with him.
The operation came in a remote mountainous cave complex inside the troubled nation on the Horn of Africa, where both the Islamic State and al-Shabab operate and are contesting government forces.
The officials revealed scant information about the nature of the operation – including how exactly the U.S. carried out the ‘kinetic operation.’ In the past, the U.S. has used armed drones, attack helicopters, and bunker-busting bombs to take out terror targets.
President Biden authorized the operation last week, after ‘careful consideration of its risks and benefits’ by a team of officials who recommended the action. The development comes days after an explosion ripped through buildings near the mayor’s office in Mogadishu, and after a U.S. military strike killed nearly 30 al-Shabaab fighters near the town of Galcad.
President Joe Biden authorized the ‘precision strike’ days ago, according to a senior administration official
Police officers stand near the bodies of alleged Al-Shabaab militants who have been killed after the siege at the Mogadishu Municipality Headquarters in Mogadishu on January 22, 2023.The U.S. announced that an operation had taken out key ISIS operative Bilal al-Sudani in northern Somalia
Biden was briefed on the operation, which was months in the making, by the Defense Department once planning reached a ‘critical stage’ last week. He was joined by his Director of National Intelligence, counterterrorism advisors, the deputy director of the CIA, and the attorney general, and other senior team members in advance of the operation.
Officials said the ‘intended capture’ of Al-Sudani was deemed the ‘best option’ for intelligence gathering and other reasons. That came after a ‘careful evaluation’ of whether ‘alternative options existed .. with even lower risk.’
According to a statement by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, the U.S. military ‘conducted an assault operation in northern Somalia that resulted in the death of a number of ISIS members’ including al-Sudani.
Austin said he was ‘responsible for fostering the growing presence of ISIS in Africa and for funding the group’s operations worldwide, including in Afghanistan.’
He said it ‘leaves the United States and its partners safer and more secure’ and reflects our ‘steadfast commitment’ to protecting Americans from terrorist threats. No civilians were harmed, he said.
An official said even the intended capture operation could result in death of the target, ‘as it ultimately did.’
Officials gushed about the planning and precision, even while holding back details for now.
Planning included construction of a special site to recreate the mountainous terrain. The execution was ‘careful, precise and effective.’ The only injury to the U.S., even amid the bloodshed, was a ‘dog bite by one of our own canines on one of our own service members. That’s how precise.’
‘Thankfully, and based on extensive planning and exquisite execution of the plan, there were no casualties among American service-members or civilians,’ said the official.
‘We had prepared for the possibility of capturing Sudani, but the hostile force’s response to the operation resulted in his death,’ said the official, without providing further detail on what precisely led to his killing.
Al-Sudani backed the expansion of the terror group across Africa and beyond, according to administration – including the ISIS Khorosan branch in Afghanistan, known as ISIS-K, ‘one of the most lethal branches,’ said an administration official.
In May, Biden ordered the deployment of hundreds of US special forces back to Somalia, after predecessor Donald Trump pulled out most of the 700 ground forces who were there, approving a target list of al-Shabaab leaders.