US military operation executed in northern Somalia kills ISIS leaders

Navy FA-18 Super Hornets fly during exercise Juniper Oak, Jan. 25, 2023.

U.S. special operations forces have killed a senior Islamic State group official and 10 other terrorist operatives in remote northern Somalia, said Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III.

The operation targeted Bilal al-Sudani, a key financial facilitator for the global terrorist organization, in a mountainous cave complex.

In a statement from the Pentagon, Austin said, “On January 25, on orders from the President, the U.S. military conducted an assault operation in northern Somalia that resulted in the death of a number of ISIS members, including Bilal-al-Sudani, an ISIS leader in Somalia and a key facilitator for ISIS’s global network.”

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

“While CENTCOM and partner forces have significantly degraded ISIS, the group’s vile ideology threatens to radicalize a new generation of fighters and fuel the group’s resurgence,” said U.S. Central Command spokesperson Colonel Joe Buccino, in a Jan. 20, 2023, statement marking the one-year anniversary of the ISIS attack on the Ghwayran detention facility in Hasakah, Syria. “ISIS retains the goal of striking outside the region. Therefore, we remain committed to the enduring defeat of ISIS alongside our partners.”

Officials in President Joe Biden’s administration have argued that the U.S. military’s recent killing of a key Islamic State militant group (ISIS) figure in Somalia showed the extent to which the jihadi group has continued to spread despite international efforts.

The Department of Defense – in collaboration with other government agencies – prepared a plan and President Biden gave the go-ahead at the beginning of the week, hoping to capture the terrorist alive.

The attack took place in a mountainous area in northern Somalia and the victim, al-Sudani, was one of the heads of the Islamic State in the Horn of Africa who had become one of the top targets on Washington’s radar about ten years ago, but it is in recent months that intelligence information has allowed him to be located.

No civilians and no American soldiers were injured or killed in the helicopter blitz.

The main objective was to capture of Al-Sudani but he was instead killed. The details of the operation have not been released.

Today also marks the conclusion of exercise Juniper Oak 23.2, the largest joint U.S-Israel military exercise in history.

The USS George H.W. Bush Carrier Strike Group participated in the exercise with command and control elements, rescue and refueling aircraft, and live fire exercises involving more than 140 aircraft, and roughly 6,400 U.S. troops alongside more than 1,500 Israeli troops.

Juniper Oak is a large-scale bilateral multi-domain military exercise to enhance interoperability between U.S. and Israeli armed forces contributing to integrated regional security.

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