Somalia applauds killing of senior IS leader Bilal al-Sudani

Mogadishu (Caasimada Online) – The Federal Government of Somalia has praised a recent operation conducted by United States special forces, which resulted in the death of Bilal al-Sudani, a senior leader of the Somali branch of Islamic State. 

The operation, which took place in northern Somalia on Wednesday, also resulted in the deaths of ten other terrorists, according to a statement released by U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

Austin said the 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.” He also thanked “our extraordinary service members as well as our intelligence community and other interagency partners for their support to this successful counterterrorism operation.”

Hussein Sheikh Ali, the National Security Advisor to the President of Somalia, welcomed the killing of al-Sudani but emphasized that the threat posed by IS in Somalia is relatively minimal. 

“As a government, we welcome the removal of the leadership of terrorist groups, especially when they are a threat to young people’s lives,” Ali said. 

“While IS does not have a significant presence in Somalia, it is important to note that the group could potentially increase its threat in the future. Al-Sudani was one of their leaders, but at this time, there is no major threat of IS in Somalia.”

Somalia’s national security advisor also stated that the U.S. operation was essential and demonstrated that the United States was not only targeting al-Shabab but also Islamic State militants in Somalia. “The message is clear, and it is that the leaders of all terrorist groups in Somalia are not safe, and there is no haven for them “in the entire Somalia Peninsula,” Ali said.

The Biden administration announced on Thursday that U.S. special operations forces had killed a senior official of the Islamic State (I.S.) group and ten other terrorist operatives in a remote area of northern Somalia. 

The operation, which took place on Wednesday, targeted Bilal al-Sudani, a Sudanese and a key financial facilitator for the Islamic State, in a mountainous cave complex.

According to Austin, Al-Sudani, who had been closely monitored by U.S. intelligence for some time, was a major financier of operations conducted by IS in Africa and the ISIS-K operating in Afghanistan. 

The Treasury Department had previously alleged that al-Sudani had worked closely with another I.S. operative, Abdella Hussein Abadigga, who had recruited young men in South Africa and sent them to a weapons training camp.

Somalia is more commonly associated with Al-Shabab, a terrorist group linked to Al Qaeda, rather than the Islamic State.

This operation comes days after Africa Command announced that it had conducted a collective self-defense strike northeast of Mogadishu, the capital, near Galcad.

In that incident, Somalia National Army forces fought heavily following an extended and intense attack by more than 100 al-Shabab fighters. The U.S. estimated that approximately 30 al-Shabab fighters were killed in that operation.

The offensive by Somalia forces against al-Shabab has been the most significant in over a decade. Al-Shabab holds a much larger footprint in Somalia than the Islamic State.