Drone Strike Kills Two Al Shabaab Terrorists in Somalia

Al Qaeda-affiliated group carried out mall attack in Kenya


A U.S. drone strike in Somalia killed two terrorists of the al Qaeda-affiliated group al Shabaab, including a leader of the group, a U.S. official said.

The drone attack took place Monday near the southern town of Jilib when an armed unmanned aerial vehicle equipped with missiles fired on a vehicle in the town, said the official who is knowledgeable of the raid but who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The official provided no further details but confirmed the attack following news reports from Mogadishu that quoted eyewitnesses in Jilib, located about 75 miles north of the town of Kismayo, as saying Al Shabaab fighters claimed the bodies of the two men after the attack.

Residents reported that the two men were riding in a Suzuki vehicle and, after an explosion, a drone was seen leaving the area. A large number of al Shabaab fighters then descended on the area.

An al Shabaab commander who had been linked to past suicide bombing attacks reportedly was one of the two men killed.

The drone strike was first reported on Twitter by freelance reporter @Daudoo also known as "Live from Mogadishu."

The Somalia drone strike is an indication that U.S. remotely piloted attacks against terrorists are continuing. President Barack Obama in a speech in May indicated that the use of drone strikes, which have been criticized for causing civilian casualties, could be constrained.

The drone strike followed an unsuccessful U.S. special operations raid Oct. 5 to snatch a senior al Qaeda leader in the Somalian coastal town of Baraawe.

The Pentagon later disclosed that the target of the early October raid was a top al Shabaab terrorist commander identified as Abdikadir Mohamed Abdikadir, known as "Ikrima," a Somali-born Kenyan.

Al Shabaab carried out the deadly armed assault on Nairobi’s Westgate Mall in September that killed 67 people.

"Ikrima is closely associated with now-deceased al Qaeda operatives Harun Fazul and Saleh Nabhan, who played roles in the 1998 bombing of the United States embassy in Nairobi, Kenya and in the 2002 attacks on a hotel and airline in Mombasa, Kenya that resulted in the deaths of Kenyan and Israeli citizens, including children," Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said in a statement after the early October raid.

"While the operation did not result in Ikrima’s capture, U.S. military personnel conducted the operation with unparalleled precision and demonstrated that the United States can put direct pressure on al Shabaab leadership at any time of our choosing," Little said.

Bill Gertz   Email Bill | Full Bio | RSS
Bill Gertz is senior editor of the Washington Free Beacon. Prior to joining the Beacon he was a national security reporter, editor, and columnist for 27 years at the Washington Times. Bill is the author of seven books, four of which were national bestsellers. His most recent book was iWar: War and Peace in the Information Age, a look at information warfare in its many forms and the enemies that are waging it. Bill has an international reputation. Vyachaslav Trubnikov, head of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, once called him a “tool of the CIA” after he wrote an article exposing Russian intelligence operations in the Balkans. A senior CIA official once threatened to have a cruise missile fired at his desk after he wrote a column critical of the CIA’s analysis of China. And China’s communist government has criticized him for news reports exposing China’s weapons and missile sales to rogues states. The state-run Xinhua news agency in 2006 identified Bill as the No. 1 “anti-China expert” in the world. Bill insists he is very much pro-China—pro-Chinese people and opposed to the communist system. Former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld once told him: “You are drilling holes in the Pentagon and sucking out information.” His Twitter handle is @BillGertz.

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