President Joe Biden escalated the US military presence in Somalia last year, reversing a troop withdrawal ordered by his predecessor
A senior commander for the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) terrorist group has been killed in a US special forces raid in Somalia, the Pentagon said, claiming the militant played a major role raising funds for the infamous jihadist cell.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced the operation on Thursday, saying it took place in northern Somalia one day prior and "resulted in the death of a number of ISIS members," among them regional leader Bilal al-Sudani and 10 other fighters.
The commander was "responsible for fostering the growing presence of ISIS in Africa and for funding the group's operations worldwide, including in Afghanistan," Austin said, alleging that al-Sudani was a "key facilitator" for Islamic State's "global network."
The Pentagon chief went on to claim that the US mission resulted in no civilian casualties, while the military's Africa Command (AFRICOM) noted the raid was carried out in a "remote location" and was unlikely to have injured non-combatants. No American troops were harmed, however one soldier suffered a bite from a military dog following the operation, according to an unnamed senior official cited by CNN.
The same official added that while US forces were prepared to capture al-Sudani, the "hostile" response from his group forced retaliation and resulted in his death. He was first sanctioned by the US Treasury in 2012 for allegedly helping foreign fighters travel to a training camp in Somalia, and for assisting jihadist groups with financing.
Though President Donald Trump withdrew most of the 700 US soldiers stationed in Somalia back in 2020, Biden redeployed the troops last year to continue operations against local militants, citing the military authorization passed by Congress after the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001. According to Brown University's Costs of War project, that authorization has been invoked to justify "counterterror" missions in at least 85 countries, effectively serving as a blank check for US military intervention around the globe.