Bilal al-Sudani, who was “responsible for promoting the rising presence of IS in Africa,” was assassinated in a strike authorised by Joe Biden.
According to US sources, a US military assault in Somalia ordered by President Joe Biden this week killed a top regional leader of the Islamic State organization, Bilal al-Sudani.
Sudani was killed in a gunfight on Wednesday as US troops went on a mountainous cave complex in northern Somalia in the hopes of apprehending him.
According to officials, some ten of Sudani’s Islamic State accomplices were killed at the spot, but no Americans were killed.
“On January 25, on the president’s orders, the US military conducted an assault operation in northern Somalia that resulted in the murder of a number of Isis fighters, including Bilal al-Sudani,” said Lloyd Austin, secretary of defence, in a statement.
Al-Sudani was in charge of supporting the expansion of Isis in Africa and providing money for the organization’s activities around the world, including those in Afghanistan, according to Austin.
Under the condition of anonymity, a US official stated that from his mountain base in northern Somalia, he provided and coordinated funding for Islamic State branches in Africa and Islamic State Khorasan, the branch operating in Afghanistan.
Ten years ago, before he joined IS, Sudani helped the extremist al-Shabaab movement in Somalia find and train fighters.
The official said, “Sudani played a key operational and financial role and had special skills that made him an important target for US anti-terrorism action.”
The operation had been planned for months, and US forces had practiced at a place built to look like the area where Sudani was hiding.
The official said that Biden gave the go-ahead for the strike earlier this week after talking with top defence, intelligence, and security officials.
“An intended capture operation was eventually considered to be the best choice to maximise the intelligence value of the operation and boost its precision in hard terrain,” another administration source said.
“The hostile forces’ response to the operation resulted in his death,” the spokesman stated.
The official stated that a US military service dog bitten one servicemember was the sole injury in the raid.
“This operation and all others, President Biden has made it very plain that we are dedicated to discovering and destroying terrorist threats to the United States and the American people, wherever they are hiding, no matter how remote,” the person added.
US forces have been working in Somalia with and for the government for a long time. Most of the time, they do regular air strikes to help government forces fight Shabaab rebels.
Some of them may be run from a US base in Djibouti, which is north of Somalia.
From 2017 to 2020, the number of US airstrikes in Somalia rose to dozens a year. However, each year also saw two to four ground operations.
Since Biden became president in 2021, the number of air strikes has gone down to 16 in 2022, and there have been no ground strikes, according to data from the national security think tank New America.