U.S. Gunship fires on al Qaeda Leader and Operative in Somalia

An AC-130 fires on wanted al Qaeda leader and a ringeader of the 1998 U.S. Embasy bombings in Kenya & Tanzania

The United States forces of Combine Joint Task Force Horn of Africa based out of Djibouti have actively weighed in on the fighting in Somalia. CBS News reports an AC-130 gunship has struck at al Qaeda’s command cell in Somalia. The targets were described as “the senior al Qaeda leader in East Africa and an al Qaeda operative wanted for his involvement in the 1998 bombings of two American embassies in Africa.” Abu Taha al-Sudani (or Tariq Abdullah) is al Qaeda’s leader in East Africa, and Fazul Abdullah Mohammed and Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan are the two wanted operatives in the embassy bombings. Fazul is al Qaeda’s operations chief for East Africa, while al-Sudani is the chief strategist and ideologue.

CBS News explains the two targets were hit while on the run. “Once they started moving, the al Qaeda operatives became easier to track, and the U.S. military started preparing for an air strike, using unmanned aerial drones to keep them under surveillance and moving the aircraft carrier Eisenhower out of the Persian Gulf toward Somalia. But when the order was given, the mission was assigned to the AC-130 gunship operated by the U.S. Special Operations command.”

While not explicitly stated, the report indicates the likelihood is high that there are indeed U.S. Special Forces on the ground. An American intelligence source informs us U.S. Special Forces and CIA paramilitary teams are directly embedded with Ethiopian forces in Somalia. Also, either the Predator UAVs used to track the al Qaeda leader and operatives either were not versions armed with Hellfire missiles, or the terrorists were moving in a convoy large enough that the individual vehicles could not be identified, the Predators did not possess enough weapons to destroy the entire convoy and the AC-130 was brought in to sweep the entire formation. The moving of the Eisenhower carrier group from the Persian Gulf to the waters off Somalia indicates further, prolonged operations may be in the plans, perhaps even air support for the assault on Ras Kamboni. Somalia has become an active front for the U.S. in the Long War.

An American intelligence source will not confirm or deny that al-Sudani and either Mohammed or Nabhan were killed, but will only state that “operations are ongoing.”

The U.S. or Somali and Ethiopian forces will want to quickly secure the attack site to obtain DNA and other forensic evidence to confirm the identity of those killed in the attack. And the site will be scoured for documents, computer drives and other information leading to information on al Qaeda’s organization in the Horn of Africa. As an American military officer who served in Iraq noted in a conversation earlier today about taking out al Qaeda’s leadership in western Anbar during 2005, al Qaeda leaders often carry important information while on the run. The information in these raids invariably led to follow-up operations, and ultimately led to the location of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

The strike agains the East African al Qaeda leadership occurred in the southern tip of Somalia, where Ethiopian and Somali forces are pressing the offensive on the Islamic Courts and al Qaeda base in Ras Kamboni and along the Kenyan border in Lower Jubba region. Heavy fighting has been reported in the vicinity of Ras Kamboni as the Ethiopians and Somali forces prepare the final assault.

The removal of al-Sudani and either Mohammed or Nabhan would be a major victory for U.S. forces based in East Africa. al Qaeda would be forced to regenerate its senior leadership in the region, and would be concerned its existing networks are now compromised.

See The Rise & Fall of Somalia’s Islamic Courts: An Online History for additional information on Somalia.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.



  • Neo-andertal says:

    I sort of expected we were deeply involved. That sort of long distance projection deep into enemy territory rolling from battle to battle requires a level of planning that the Ethiopian army does not possess. This is nothing like grinding skirmishes fought along the Eritrean boarder. I suspect we are plugged into this on many levels. I’m not surprised it’s all coming out now. At this point, it’s a bit like hiding an elephant herd.

  • Neo-andertal says:

    I should revise that and say “I sort of expected we were deeply involved”

  • Sounds like pretty good news.
    Will we get a confirmation on whether or not the targets were killed?

  • sangell says:

    Somalia’s interim President Abdullahi Yusuf backed the US action. “The US has a right to bombard terrorist suspects who attacked its embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.”
    It is refreshing to hear someone whose brain has
    not been been addled by the PC crap issuing from
    western capitals.
    Shinzo Abe, the new Japanese PM, is another one
    whose seems to understand what is going on. He has announced ” Japan will not tolerate a nuclear North Korea.” He will telling that to the pantywaist leaders of Western Europe this week. I expect Romano Prodi and Jose Zapatero will soil themselves after Abe tells them what
    Japan expects of Europe.

  • pedestrian says:

    The turning point of the war against terror in Somalia after the involvement of Ethiopean military was dramatic and exciting. It reminds the case in Afghanistan which the Northern Alliance were surrounded ready to cease to exist by Taliban force but made a turning point just after the 911 tragedy which the US armed force came in and supported the Northern Alliance to defeat the Taliban. In both case, we were also cleaning up the mess, or say “sh*t”, of former President Clinton who did nothing to take care of Somalia (and also retreated the military) and Afghanistan (not dealing much with Osama bin Laden at that time). Let’s hope for the victory of the world wide offensive against Al Qaida. I also hope Fazul Abdullah Mohammed and Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan have suffered to death and have been scared to death by the attacks by AC-130, for what they have done to lives lost at American Embassies in Africa attacked by these terrorists.

  • pedestrian says:

    Several Al-Qaida terrorists have been killed around the world in recent days, and this time in Jordan. I love to hear Al-Qaida terrorists biting the dust day after day, and love the global offensive against Al-Qaida. Yesterday in Somalia, and today in Jordan. Shall it be Iraq or Afghanistan tomorrow?
    Here is the news about Al-Qaida terrorist killed in Jordan from AKI,

  • kaliph says:

    Daveed has a good article up at Pajamas Media with some more details on America’s presence in Somalia.
    It’s definitely worth a read.

  • Web Reconnaissance for 01/09/2006

    A short recon of what痴 out there that might draw your attention.

  • Neo-andertal says:

    I expect the left will say absolutely nothing about this until something goes seriously wrong or heavy gorilla warfare against Ethiopian troops begins. Than let the bitching that we don’t have instant solutions for these people. It a hopeless and ugly place with very long term problems, so we will eventually run away again.

  • Neo-andertal says:

    That was: Than let the bitching (begin) that we don’t have instant solutions for these people.

  • C-Low says:

    “wedding party” Lisa “wedding party.
    It always somehow is just a innocent wedding party complete with AP pictures of trampled white dresses and all. ERRRR un checked propoganda against our effort from our own so called “american news groups” who even themselves claim to be “world citizens” aka anti-americans to me just burns my a*s.

  • Neo-andertal says:

    C-Low, “wedding party”
    LOL, Witless commando’s accidentally storm wedding party.
    I can remember at least five such incidents, three from Afghanistan and two from Iraq. Apparently, a terrorist encampment is a great place to get hitched. I wonder if there isn’t kernel of truth at the center of some of this, though. I know Sharia custom allows temporary marriages for certain purposes. I wonder how many outside fighters get hitched to the village girls for a few weeks of earthy pleasure before going off to a certain death.

  • Michael says:

    Good news indeed, but so much going on around the world. It is not easy. But glad to see our full engagement in the region. And it appears our troops have done an excellent job in training Ehtiopians as well.
    The last thing we ever need to do is disengage and let tyrants rule. Neither in Somalia, Iraq, the greater Middle East, Africa, Asia. Whenever we do, bad guys come in supported by larger, corrupt countries like Russia and China who don’t give a damn about the people under rules of Dictators because of their own history and still clining to Communist ideas. No one is valuable, nothing sacred except the all powerful State.
    The domestic politics in our country needs to end on a certain level and understand the so called end of the Cold War shuffled in a new phase. Russia is supporting most of our enemies and therefore questionable friendship exist. China likewise is supporting our enemies. Our leaders need to hash out a clear strategy of long term goals for a new, stronger engagement of specific strategy to 1) Continue change in China and Russia via leadership and freedom initiatives, 2) Institute a new policy of similar goals in what I consider troubled countries like France which are still largely manipulated by State Run Media, 3) Third World Policy Iniatives for similar leadership and freedom initiatives.
    Our Military, our Intel, our State, Congress, Executive and Judicial must work together along with business to engage on all levels in countries that have been ravished by years of brutal existence and help lift them up with good governance, ethics, opportunity, and yes – Freedom.
    We cannot simply ignore the future by allowing Dictators rule over an oppressed people. And we cannot blame our leaders anymore since we all know now what this leads to and our nation is self-governed. We cannot turn on Follywood Fiction and forget the world around us is struggling with rulers who oppress and torture millions. Nor can we trust our government to do all things right whether Republican or Democrat. It is to easy to overlook the suffering of others when trying to keep “the American people” spoiled in riches. I am guilty of this.
    It will be a long, hard slug. But we must continue to persevere around the world with a new policy of engagement that seeks equality for all people, not just America or Europe, Canada, Australia and a few others. Leaving nations and people to the wolves insures a more chaotic future that eventually comes back to bites all of us.
    Today, that bite can be more severe than ever, due to technological advancements.
    This is not idealistic rubbish either. It is being very pragmatic in long term goals.
    Somalia is one small area in this war. Pakistan and Sudan are still churning out terrorist. The war in Darfur is spilling into Chad. Nigeria is under constant attack. Hezbollah is actively trying to bring down the Lebanese government. Fatah and Hamas are experiencing civil war.
    The last thing we must do is to disengage out of Asia, Africa, Afghanistan or Iraq. Instead we must make a point to stay and perform by example of leadership, good rule, good treatment and advancement of peoples lives. Contributing to a healthy government based upon rule of law, continued free media, equality and government of the people with open discussion of religious values. To lift up those who have good values and protect them. To help develop leaders who truly care about All people, not just their tribe, or their sect and denomination.
    Otherwise, corrupt leaders in Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Egypt, Sudan and others will continue to produce hatred and war around the world either by financing terrorist, propaganda or religious hatred. By establishing Iraqi Freedom, these nations one by one will be forced to change. The tyrants know this. That is why Syria and Iran are contributing so much to the problems in Iraq. But, by holding up the people of Iraq, continuing to stand by them, then people of the region will demand more freedom in their own countries as they continue to see it around them.
    In our own yard before us, Chavez is moving into a Dictatorship role. He is nationalizing all private enterprises, interfering and sending troops to Bolivia.
    Jimmy Carter has spawned yet another Tyrannical leader that will take his nation down the road to hell. This time, Carter has accomplished this in our own frontyard. Not in Palestine with Arafat, not with Hamas or Hezbollah, but in South America.
    Because of Jimmy’s inaction in the past to Iran’s Mullahs, his blessings to any number of murderous thugs around the world, we have the Ayatollah’s in Iran building nukes, Hamas and Hezbollah touting his book, and now a rebirth of Communist corruptioin one last time spawning more Fidels.
    Our President should call Carter into his office and ask him politely to stop meddling in affairs when he is not authorized to do so and especially when he is responsible for legitimizing so many brutal and ruthless murderers.
    If Carter refuses to do so, then he should be denounced as unfit and not representing our coutnry. He has received millions from Arab interest and is not a neutral peacemaker by any means.
    Whatever good he has done thru habitat has been completely offset by legitimizing Tyrants to continue to oppress and kill their own people.


Islamic state



Al shabaab

Boko Haram