US military confirms Shabaab’s intel chief killed in airstrike

Yesterday, Somalia’s National Security Agency said that the leader of Shabaab’s Amniyat, or intelligence service, was killed in a US airstrike in southern Somalia on Dec. 29. Today, the US Department of Defense issued a confirmation that Tahlil Abdishakur was indeed killed. The full text of the DoD press release is below.

Again, there is some uncertainty over the identity of the leader of the Amniyat. [See LWJ reports, Captured Shabaab official previously identified as group’s ‘chief of intelligence’, and Somali government reports Shabaab’s intel chief killed in US airstrike, for more details.] The US military seems certain that Abdishakur was indeed the head of Shabaab’s intelligence branch as well as the director of Shabaab’s “external operations,” or missions that occur outside of Somalia.

Text of DoD press release on the killing of Abdishakur:

The Department of Defense has confirmed that Tahlil Abdishakur, chief of al-Shabaab’s intelligence and security wing, was killed in an airstrike on December 29th.

The strike took place in the vicinity of Saakow, Somalia, and was conducted by U.S. forces using unmanned aircraft. Working from actionable intelligence, these forces successfully struck with several Hellfire missiles a vehicle carrying Tahlil.

Tahlil was responsible for al-Shabaab’s external operations. His death will significantly impact al-Shabaab’s ability to conduct attacks against the government of the Federal Republic of Somalia, the Somali people, and U.S. allies and interests in the region.

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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