Is the US launching airstrikes against Shabaab in Somalia?

A recent report in Shabelle on the fighting in the border town of Dhobley in southern Somalia and the death of a Shabaab commander includes speculation that airpower is being employed against Shabaab fighters and commanders:

Also, Hassan Abdurrahman Gumarey, an Al shabaab official was confirmed dead in the fighting that on Sunday rocked the border town of Dhobley.

Some reports suggested that during the battle, aerial strikes on were targeted Al Shabaab officials, killing number of Al sSabaab military officers.

The Somali government and the African Union forces backing them do not possess aircraft needed to carry out airstrikes, but Ethiopia, Kenya, and the US do.

While the Shabelle report is unconfirmed (a rumor really), it isn’t unreasonable to speculate that the US may be carrying out airstrikes and other such ‘over-the-horizon’ attacks against Shabaab. The US has done so in the past.

During the Ethiopian invasion of Somalia in December 2006 and January 2007, the US launched airstrikes against al Qaeda leaders in Kismayo and Ras Kamboni. In June 2007, a US destroyer fired shells at a group of speedboats thought to be transporting al Qaeda fighters off the coast on Puntland. In March 2008, the US launched a strike (thought to be by sea-launched cruise missiles) in Dhobley against Ras Kamboni Brigades leader Hassan Turki and al Qaeda leader Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan. In May 2008, a US airstrike in Dhusamareb killed Shabaab leaders Aden Hashi Ayro and Sheikh Muhyadin Omar. And in September 2009, a US special operations team killed Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan during a raid in Barawe.

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

Are you a dedicated reader of FDD's Long War Journal? Has our research benefitted you or your team over the years? Support our independent reporting and analysis today by considering a one-time or monthly donation. Thanks for reading! You can make a tax-deductible donation here.

Tags: ,


  • bill says:

    I, for one, hope we are killing these individuals where ever we can find them. I only pray that we launch a few at Tehran also.

  • kp says:

    We are operating drones fron Djibouti apparently for operation of Yemen and anti-piracy operations. Perhaps some get tasked for Somalia for intel (for the AU forces and the surrounding countries) and the occasional supporting attack.

    Given our previous operations (with apparently AC-130) there it’s clear there is an interest and some intelligence and operational infrastructure in place.

  • Ryan says:

    bill, launching a few at Tehran would invite retaliation against American interests worldwide and with gas prices so high already, I’m sure you wouldn’t want to entertain the idea of paying twice the current gas prices when you go to your nearest gas station.


Islamic state



Al shabaab

Boko Haram