U.S. kills Bilal al-Sudani and 10 ISIS operatives in Somalia

Mogadishu (Caasimada Online) – The Biden administration announced on Thursday that U.S. special operations forces had killed a senior official of the Islamic State (IS) 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.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a statement that 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.”

“We are grateful to our extraordinary service members as well as our intelligence community and other interagency partners for their support to this successful counterterrorism operation,” Austin said.

President Joe Biden approved the mission after being briefed on it last week, following recommendations from Austin and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army Gen. Mark Milley.

According to administration sources, Biden gave the green light for the operation after carefully assessing the potential risks to American troops and the impact on civilians in the area and determining that there were no better alternatives for addressing the threat posed by al-Sudani.

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 ISIS in Africa and the ISIS-K operating in Afghanistan.

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

No civilians were harmed during the operation. However, one American soldier was bitten by a military dog but was not seriously injured.

Officials provided few details about the operation or the circumstances surrounding al-Sudani’s death. However, one official stated that the intent was to capture al-Sudani, but it was not feasible.

The fact that commandos were sent rather than a less risky drone operation suggests the significance of the target.

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.