US drones kill 2 Shabaab operatives in southern Somalia

The US killed two Shabaab operatives, including a senior explosives expert, in a drone strike that targeted a vehicle in southern Somalia today.

The remotely piloted Predators or the more deadly Reapers fired three missiles at a car as it traveled in the town of Jilib, about 50 miles north of Kismayo, Voice of America reported.

One of the two Shabaab operatives killed was Anta Anta. He was described as “the mastermind of al Shabab’s suicide missions,” according to VOA. He was involved in a series of five coordinated suicide attacks in 2008 that targeted the presidential palace, a UN compound, the Ethiopian Consulate in Somaliland, and an intelligence headquarters in Puntland. The identity of the other slain Shabaab operative was not disclosed.

The drone strike in Jilib was likely launched from a US base in Arba Minch in Ethiopia. The existence of the base was revealed in 2011.

Although it formally joined al Qaeda in early 2012, Shabaab has been closely tied to the global jihadist group for many years. Top al Qaeda operatives, including several who were indicted for their roles in the 1998 bombings at the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, have served in senior leadership positions in Shabaab.

Second raid by US in Somalia this month

Today’s drone strike is the second reported raid targeting a top Shabaab leader in the past month. On Oct. 5, US Navy SEALs attempted to capture Abdulkadir Mohamed Abdulkadir, Shabaab’s external operations chief, who is also known as Ikrima. Shabaab forces repelled the raid; the US Department of Defense said that US forces withdrew after concerns over the likelihood of civilian casualties.

Today’s drone strike took place just one month after Shabaab forces launched a deadly, Mumbai-like raid on an upscale mall in Nairobi, Kenya, that resulted in the deaths of more than 65 civilians, including Europeans and Americans. Shabaab assault teams executed civilians and controlled the mall for 80 hours before explosions led to the collapse of a section of the four-story mall, which ended the siege.

Shabaab also repelled another raid by foreign special operations forces earlier this year. In January 2013, French commandos launched a failed raid in the town of Bula Marer to free a French intelligence official who had been captured by Shabaab in 2009. Shabaab fighters halted the attack and captured a French commando, who later died in custody. Shabaab released photographs of the captured soldier and weapons and gear seized during the raid, and then executed the French intelligence official.

US has targeted top Shabaab and al Qaeda leaders in Somalia before

The US has targeted top Shabaab leaders in drone and conventional airstrikes in the past. Bilal al Berjawi, a British national of Lebanese descent, was killed in an airstrike in January 2012. Al Berjawi was the senior deputy of Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, the leader of al Qaeda East Africa who also served as a top commander in Shabaab. Fazul was killed by Somali troops at a checkpoint outside Mogadishu in June 2011.

The US also killed Aden Hashi Ayro and Sheikh Muhyadin Omar in an airstrike in the spring of 2008. Before his death, Ayro was the leader of Shabaab.

Fazul and Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, who also commanded al Qaeda East Africa, were also targeted, along with Abu Tala al Sudani, in US airstrikes in 2007 and 2008 during the Ethiopian invasion and occupation of southern Somalia. And Hassan Turki, another senior Shabaab leader who is closely tied to al Qaeda, was targeted in a US strike in 2008.

Nabhan was also the target of a US special forces raid in the Somali town of Barawe in 2009. US commandos killed Nabhan and another terrorist during the raid.

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

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  • aurile says:

    ‘Remotely piloted Predators’ it’s almost not fair 😉

  • Bill S. says:

    I guess this is the USA’s answer to UN criticism of drones strikes. I don’t think the timing is entirely coincidental.
    By the way, are we certain these were US drones? Is it possible they were French or UK drones? Indeed, do we know it was a drone? Eye witness reports are notoriously unreliable. This could also be an air strike by the Kenyan Air Force.

  • mehtevas says:

    It’s about time IAA showed up. The ripple in the pond effect from the earlier AMA raid is bearing fruit.
    Kansas city shuffle.

  • blert says:

    It’s notable that the Somali pirate fanatics route their ransoms through Yemen’s banking system — since Somalia is ‘off the grid.’
    AQAP takes 20% off the top for their ‘services’ — remarkably like Mohammed’s practice of 1400 years ago.
    The pirates do not operate in isolation from Yemen, not at all. In fact, Yemenis are often the ‘finger men’ who report the transit of juicy victims such as wealthy infidel yachtsmen plying the Indian Ocean. To reach such victims the pirates sailed hundreds of kilometers further east than ever before.
    Without Yemeni finger men, the Somalis would’ve never known the location of such prizes.
    The one-fifth cut means that the piracy campaign really stuffed the coffers of AQAP. It’s flush with lucre. The West was slow to appreciate just how damaging the ransoms were to the campaign against the fanatics.
    The word is that Somalis are so prone to khat addiction which simulates meth to the point that they are brain damaged.
    “The main psychoactive ingredients in khat are cathinone and cathine. >bThese chemicals are structurally similar to amphetamine and result in similar stimulant effects in the brain and body, although they are less potent. Like other stimulants, cathinone and cathine stimulate the release of the stress hormone and neurotransmitter norepinephrine and raise the level of the neurotransmitter dopamine in brain circuits regulating pleasure and movement.”
    This goes a long way to explaining what happened with Captain Phillips. If the pirates weren’t stupid before, khat made them dumb in practice.
    Which ties back into the SEAL team op that made the news. They quickly discovered that the Somalis functioned like agitated zombies. Witnessing functional insanity in a battle space is rather unnerving.
    The SEALS had played enough first-person-shooter video games to know that the zombie count would be in orbit.

  • Frédéric says:

    Hello. Is there an article summarizing the U.S. drone strikes in Somalia as files on Pakistan and Yemen?
    This would be to complete the French wikipedia article follows: C3% A9riennes_am% C3% A9ricaines_au_Pakistan


Islamic state



Al shabaab

Boko Haram