U.S. airstrike targets head of Al-Shabab external operations

Mogadishu (Caasimada Online) – The most recent U.S. airstrike against the militant group, al-Shabab in Somalia, targeted its chief of external operations, according to two informed sources, one of whom is a defector from the extremist organization.

Moallim Osman, the veteran military commander known for coordinating the influx of foreign fighters into Somalia, was confirmed as the intended target by former al-Shabab official Omar Mohamed Abu Ayan and substantiated by the Somali Ministry of Information.

According to a Tuesday statement from the Ministry, Osman has played a significant role in fortifying al-Shabab’s ranks by managing foreign fighters’ entry into the war-torn country.

A resilient target

Despite the U.S. mission’s explicit intent, the strike did not achieve its ultimate goal. Lieutenant Commander Timothy S. Pietrack, a U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) spokesperson, indicated that the al-Shabab leader had survived the attack.

“U.S.-AFRICOM has determined that one al-Shabab leader was injured as a result of the operation,” Pietrack said on Tuesday.

The operation occurred in Jilib, a recognized al-Shabab stronghold roughly 385 kilometers southwest of the Somali capital, Mogadishu.

The U.S. command’s initial appraisal suggested no civilian casualties, according to an official AFRICOM statement.

An Infamous track record

Moallim Osman, the veteran al-Shabab commander, has held various prominent roles within the extremist group, even serving as defense chief.

His active role in orchestrating al-Shabab’s deadliest assault on peacekeepers in Somalia back in January 2016 has been acknowledged by anonymous Somali officials.

Reportedly, over 140 Kenyan troops were killed during the assault on an African Union military base in El Adde, a region that coincidentally serves as Osman’s hometown.

Following the devastating attack, Kenyan forces vacated the base, an action uncontested by the Kenyan government.

In his current capacity, Osman oversees al-Shabab’s attacks in Kenya, where the group has repeatedly struck against security forces over the years.

He also directed the group’s strategic incursion into eastern Ethiopia last July.

This latest U.S. action against al-Shabab coincides with an important diplomatic event.

Mahad Salad, the director of Somalia’s National Intelligence and Security Agency, was reportedly in the United States to engage with Pentagon, CIA, and FBI officials.

These crucial discussions, revealed by a source familiar with the visit but wishing to remain anonymous, were centered on strengthening security and counterterrorism cooperation between the two nations.