U.S. targets Somali new ISIS global leader

Washington (Caasimada Online) – The U.S. military recently carried out an airstrike in Somalia aimed at Abdulqadir Mumin, the global leader of ISIS, but confirmation of his death remains unverified.

On May 31, U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) announced an airstrike against ISIS militants in a remote area 81 kilometers southeast of Bosaso, Somalia.

The strike resulted in the deaths of three militants. However, AFRICOM did not specify the identities of those killed or the primary target of the operation.

Mumin: From local to global leadership

Abdulqadir Mumin, previously known as the leader of ISIS in Somalia, had reportedly ascended to the global leadership of the terror group, according to US officials. 

This elevation came after the death of the former ISIS leader, Abu al-Hasan al-Hashimi al-Qurashi, in late 2022.

Mumin’s new role, though not widely publicized, signifies ISIS’s strategic shift towards expanding its influence in Africa.

Despite being relatively small, with an estimated 100 to 200 fighters, ISIS in Somalia has been more effective in certain operational aspects compared to other terror networks in the region. This includes sophisticated evasion tactics and inter-group coordination, particularly in financing.

ISIS’s presence is not confined to Somalia. The group has established cells in various African countries, including Libya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Mozambique.

These expansions are part of a broader strategy driven by the leadership’s directive to invest in regions perceived as more permissive and conducive for operations.

This strategy emerges from the significant losses ISIS has faced in its traditional strongholds in Iraq and Syria.

Mumin’s impact and threats

Abdulqadir Mumin has been linked to several deadly attacks in Somalia over the past decade. Notably, in 2016, he orchestrated the capture and occupation of a city in Puntland. He was behind the assassination of a judicial official in 2019.

His designation as a specially designated global terrorist by the U.S. in 2016 underscored the threat he posed to U.S. national security and interests.

A senior defense official highlighted the effectiveness of U.S. operations against ISIS leadership in the Middle East, which has forced the group’s strategic pivot to Africa.

“Africa is seen as a more permissive environment where ISIS can operate more freely,” the official noted. The cells across the continent have grown due to strategic directions from ISIS leadership.

Mumin’s Biography

Abdulqadir Mumin was born in Puntland, Somalia, and initially became known for his work as a radical preacher.

Before his affiliation with ISIS, Mumin was part of al-Shabaab, an al-Qaeda-linked militant group in Somalia. However, in 2015, he pledged allegiance to ISIS, leading a faction of al-Shabaab fighters to break away and form an ISIS affiliate in Puntland.

Mumin’s leadership style and strategic acumen have made him a formidable figure in the jihadist world. Under his command, ISIS in Somalia carried out several high-profile attacks, including the 2016 capture and occupation of Qandala, a coastal town in Puntland.

His group has also been responsible for numerous assassinations, bombings, and raids targeting Somali security forces, government officials, and civilians.

In 2016, the U.S. designated Mumin as a specially designated global terrorist, emphasizing the significant risk he posed to U.S. national security and interests.

His ability to evade capture and continue leading ISIS operations in Somalia has been a testament to his operational skills and the challenges faced by counter-terrorism forces in the region.